Greg Nathan Franchise Relations Tip #30: How to Breathe New Life Into Your Meeting

This week Greg offers tips on how to improve the quality, effectiveness and communication of meetings with your franchisees.

How to Breathe New Life Into Your Meetings

How would you rate the effectiveness of your franchisee group meetings? Most franchisors and franchisees have mixed feelings.

On one hand they value the opportunity to get together. But many franchisor executives say they are disappointed by what they see as a lack of engagement. A symptom of this can be dwindling attendance.

This does not need to be the case.

I had breakfast with a client last week who was keen to tell me how he had implemented some new group processes in his regional meetings.

Instead of the usual presentations to franchisees by him and his team, he asked his franchisees at the start of the meeting “What do you want to talk about?” They then generated a fresh and relevant agenda using a technique which involves franchisees working in small groups to create a prioritized list.

He said it was the best meeting they'd had. Not only that, but every franchisee returned for the meeting the following month, keen to continue the discussions. I am a fan of small group discussions because they greatly improve the quality of communication.

The injection of myth

Successful communication is always a challenge because most of us fall for the trap of thinking it is about clearly informing people of what we want them to know. Social psychologist, Hugh Mackay, calls this “The Injection Myth” because it assumes people are passive receptacles willing to have our message injected into their brain.

In reality it is what people do with our message that determines our success as communicators. This requires us to treat people as active participants in the communication process. The fact is they are going to interpret what they

hear based on their hopes, fears, needs and beliefs.

For instance, you may tell a franchisee you want them to share financial information. But what they may hear is that you don't trust them, or you are going to use the information against them. You may say to someone you have come to help them with their business. But what they hear is you are going to interfere with their business.

For this reason successful communication occurs when people put as much energy into listening as talking. And they check in occasionally to ensure the message being received is the message intended.

The power of small groups

When you are talking to a group of 10 or more people it's hard to know how they have interpreted your comments. Even if you ask questions, you will often get silence because most people don not like to speak in front of a group. Or you just get to hear (a lot) from the vocal minority.

Breaking people into smaller groups enables them to clarify what they heave heard and formulate questions or comments which can then be safely communicated as coming from the group rather than the individual. In this way we create more engagement and better quality communication.

So if you want to breathe new life into your meetings try using small groups to get more participation and more effective sharing of information. We’ll be teaching some useful techniques on this topic at the Profitable Partnerships Boot Camps later this year. Hope you can join us. And, please remember that our Early Bird Discount expires on July 22nd, so if you are planning to attend register now and save $100/seat! Click here to register today.

Until next time.

Greg Nathan
Franchise Relationships Institute

P.S. I'll be giving one more free webinar this summer. I hope you can join us. Here are the details:

10 Strategies to Drive a Healthy Franchising Culture
Tuesday July 26, 2011 at 2:30pm MDT

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