A Magical Meeting Story from Katharine Halpin, a coach and facilitator based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Welcome to Magical Meetings Stories, a series where I chat with professional facilitators, meeting practitioners, leaders, and CEOs across industries about their meeting culture. We dive deep into a specific magical meeting they’ve run, including their approach to facilitation design, and their tips and tricks for running meetings where people thrive.
Katharine Halpin is a facilitator, coach and author of Alignment for Success: Bringing out the Best in Yourself, Your Teams, and Your Company and Respond, Not React Playbook. I spoke with Katharine about the Introduction and Alignment Meeting, the reason behind it, and her proudest moments from the meeting.
Katharine is a facilitator of processes and typically designs 90-day processes to meet a client’s objectives with their timeframe and budget. In a standard Introduction and Alignment meeting, Katharine’s main objective is to engage her client’s team and encourage innovation.
In this particular meeting, Katharine’s client hired her to get to know the team, identify their strengths, weaknesses, and potential for growth, while realigning the team with the company’s values. In this session, Katherine focused on creating an environment of psychological and emotional safety while participants shifted to a more responsive way of engaging with one another.
Let’s take a closer look at Katharine’s process to learn what made this meeting magical.
In an Introduction and Alignment meeting, the facilitator works with the team to shift from reactive reactions to more responsive ones, in turn creating a safe space for accountability and authenticity. In this process, team members are encouraged to take 100% accountability for their thoughts and actions.
In this meeting, the facilitator will select the following:
- An offsite or online location
- Sessions range from half a day to a full day
- All team members
- Alignment for Success
- Respond, Not React Playbook
- Core Values Index assessment
- Nine Habits review
- Catch Yourself and Coach Yourself tool
- Identifying each team members’ strengths and opportunities for growth
This particular meeting was attended by 10 people, most of whom specialized in data.
Plan the Workshop:
Before the session begins, the facilitator will prepare with the following:
- Core Values Index assessment
- Providing reading materials
- Acknowledgements of Success
- Core Values Index Review
- Nine Habits Review
- Catch Yourself and Coach Yourself
The facilitator will prepare for the Introduction and Alignment meeting by conducting interviews, conducting the Core Values Index assessment, and providing the required reading materials.
The facilitator will interview the client extensively, as well as each participant. These interviews help the facilitator determine realistic milestones and define the client’s objectives.
Ahead of this Introduction and Alignment session, Katherine met with her client to understand their objectives and determine realistic milestones. Katharine identified the themes and patterns from multiple interviews and shared them with the client to further fine-tune the agenda.
This way, Katherine learned “where the bodies were buried” and highlighted what issues needed to be addressed in the session.
Core Values Index Assessment
After the interviews, the facilitator will ask participants to take the Core Values Index assessment to identify their strengths.
Ahead of the meeting, Katharine used the CVI to determine each participant’s strengths:
“I want people to know who else is in the room with them and how they can throw them the ball in a way they can catch it.”
Katharine then asked the team to read her ebooks Alignment for Success and Respond and Not React Playbook.
Acknowledgements of Success
The facilitator begins the Introduction and Alignment meeting by acknowledging the accomplishments of team members for 20 – 40 minutes. The goal is to get everyone on the same page and develop a working process that the facilitator can follow in each subsequent meeting.
During Katharine’s introduction, team members were encouraged to take more initiative and ownership as they received authentic acknowledgements from their peers.
“If you do an acknowledgement based on the facts…how what they’ve done has made a difference either for you or for your team or the company or the customer. When adding those two important components…it tends to cause people to sit up straighter and it tends to make them internalize it and own it.”
Core Values Index Review
The facilitator will review the 10-minute Core Values Index assessment with participants and share the results with the rest of the team.
The Core Value Index assesses growth, opportunities, and strength. The CVI is made up of four quadrants of metrics:
- the people person
- the visionary
- the innovator
- the data person
This test is instrumental in assigning specific projects to individuals with those strengths. Moreover, the assessment provides conflict resolution and team building information to help inform the rest of the session.
Nine Habits Review
The facilitator will follow the CVI review with a review of the nine habits from the Respond, Not React Playbook. This helps participants shift into a proactive and strategic mode and mindset.
In the Respond, Not React Playbook, Katharine shares nine time management habits:
- Habits 1 – 4 create white space on the calendar
- Habit 5 – 6 involve moving projects forward during normal business hours with structure and discipline
- Habits 7 – 9 introduce “strategic think time” to help one delegate more effectively
Catch Yourself and Coach Yourself
The facilitator introduces the Catch Yourself and Coach Yourself tool to identify red flags and connect the dots of the team’s inner variables.
Katharine’s Catch Yourself and Coach Yourself methodology uses three circles:
- The right circle includes aligned results
- The middle circle shares strategies and actions
- The left circle asks:
- “Who are you being?”
- “What are you doing?”
- “What’s your mindset?”
- “What’s your attitude?”
The facilitator ends the meeting by asking participants where they found value in the session.
Katharine closed the session by asking her team what they found most valuable about the meeting. Participants responded with a renewed sense of energy or realignment with their roles.
Strategic Creative Tension
The concept of creative tension is a running theme throughout Katharine’s sessions. Coined by Peter Senge, creative tension is “the gap between where we are, our current reality, and where we want to be.” Katharine points out that the only way to shift one’s current reality is to reflect on that gap regularly and take steps to close it. Katharine keeps creative tension top of mind as she works to facilitate accountability and create psychologically safe environments for her team members.
When asked about potential pitfalls of the meeting, Katherine discussed the situation where someone she hasn’t interviewed causes dissension in a meeting:
“There’s always that somebody that I have not interviewed, and therefore I have not had an opportunity to build rapport, earn their trust, there’s always a pitfall or risk that they can be a heckler in the room.”
For this reason, Katharine’s agenda allows for countless opportunities to build trust, break down preconceived ideas, and hold everyone accountable. This way, participants can get to the heart of the issue as they work to move forward as a unit.
I asked Katharine what meeting moment made her the proudest and she spoke about the power of giving and receiving acknowledgements:
“What I’m most proud about is the acknowledgements, because…”It’s a basic human need, right above food and children’s safety to feel valued and to feel appreciated, and to feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself.”
Do you have your own Magical Meeting Story to tell?
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