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Improving your team meetings with a CAT - Part 4

By Dr Georgia Hay

It’s 9:01am and the team meeting has officially started – but a number of people are still talking about what they did on the weekend. Are you wondering whether this is just a huge waste of time? Are you thinking, “why can’t we just get straight to the work?!”

Researchers and practitioners alike have grappled with the challenge of making meetings effective for a long time. Although casual conversation at the beginning of team meetings may seem useless, it can help to maintain important social trust and familiarity that is critical to the teams’ effectiveness – what researchers call ‘relationship-oriented behaviours’. This is also relevant in times of Covid-19, where most employees are forced to work at home and have fewer informal opportunities to interact with their colleagues (e.g. a coffee corner).

Of course, ‘getting on with the work’ – ‘task-oriented behaviours’ – are also important.

So how do we get the balance right between building relationships and doing the work? How much of each should we do? When is relationship-building the most important?

Hold that thought for a moment.

Continuing with our hypothetical scenario…Do your thoughts change if it’s Karen, who suggests that the meeting should start properly (i.e., a task-oriented behaviour), compared to if it’s Andrew?

Increasingly, researchers and managers are also wondering how gender stereotypes and biases affect how we react to what others say and do – what researchers call ‘verbal behaviours’ – in team meetings.

In fact, these perceptions of others’ verbal behaviours in meetings may shape whether women or men are more successful at rising through the ranks and becoming leaders in their organisations.

Professor Fabiola Gerpott, Professor of Leadership at WHU in the Otto Beisheim School of Management, and Sofia Schlamp PhD Candidate at VU Amsterdam and HR professional at Royal Dutch Shell, have been using CAT since 2018 to study these topics.

Professor Fabiola Gerpott and Sofia Schlamp

For more information about this research project, check out this video:

For our academic audience, you can find the full paper, published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, here.

Using CAT to study gender dynamics in meetings

At the beginning of her PhD, Sofia knew that she wanted to study how team members’ verbal behaviours shape the success of team meetings, and how this differs for males vs. females, but she wasn’t sure which tool to use. Luckily, Fabiola, her PhD supervisor, pointed her towards CAT.

Sofia says: “This way of collecting and analysing data is really unique because it combines the quantitative and qualitative.”

She also loved how the feedback function within CAT helped her to develop a sense of trust and buy-in with the employees and managers she was collaborating with.

For more about Sofia’s experience (including some advice for first-time users), check out this video:

Still not sure if you could use CAT in your work? Stay tuned for the next posts in this series, where we will give other examples of how CAT can be used, including more videos from our very own ‘CAT lovers!’

For further detail on the functionality and history of CAT, and how to access it, click here.

For the original Curtin University media release on CAT, click here.

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