What about when the meeting is called solely for the sharing of information, rather than for either instruction or inspiration? While meetings are often called primarily for the purpose of sharing information, this purpose is not formally acknowledged, perhaps because most people envision their role as listener to be passive and rather unimportant. Unfortunately, many people do not adequately value the role of listener and do not realize that effective listening is a highly active role, requiring skillful performance on the part of both sender and receiver. Group members also fail to recognize the need for frequent shifting in roles between speaking and listening if information-sharing transactions are to be successful.
While it is true that other modes of information dissemination often are more effective than face-to-face communication, there are occasions when a meeting should be called for information sharing. Reasons for calling such a meeting include:
1. A specific body of information must be communicated to a specific group of people in a short period of time or must be simultaneously communicated to several individuals (to avoid rumors, distortions, or animosity).
2. A specific body of information that is particularly complex or subject to misinterpretation (because of its subtlety, emotional tone, or potential impact) must be conveyed to and clearly understood by a group of people.
3. All of the pertinent information that is available regarding a specific problem or decision has not yet been collected, but can be accessed through a specific group of people. This information is needed in a short period of time and/or is readily misunderstood, given its complexity or emotional tone.
4. A specific group of people must feel a sense of ownership for a specific decision that is to be made or a specific problem that is to be solved, based on information that they now possess or could readily receive.
The Art of Decision-Making
Effective team empowerment also includes the introduction of new knowledge and skills with specific regard to the complex processes of decision-making. Effective communications, conflict-management and problem solving sets the stage for the most challenging of all group functions: the art of decision-making. Once a team is effective in making decisions then it can be truly identified as “empowered.” Yet, this is not an easy stage of group development. Unfortunately, the meetings in most organizations have never been noted for efficiency of decision-making procedures. Numerous committees, with shifting memberships and often vaguely defined areas of responsibility, meet seemingly endlessly; decisions appear somehow to be made, either to be overturned by other committees or to be re-decided all over again at subsequent meetings.