About halfway through my summer, my department was tasked with facilitating a Leadership Forum for all the directors and managers across HITS. Our core team within Education and Training held several meetings to discuss our goals and outcomes for the Leadership Forum. We felt it was necessary to balance important statistics regarding Michigan Medicine with equally important activities about team building and the culture of our office.
One particular activity required each of us to facilitate a round table discussion with 5-7 directors or managers. Keep in mind that each of these participants are well-seasoned working professionals in senior-level positions and I’ve only been a part of the office for about 6 weeks. From the get go, I was a little bit nervous because each of these people had been with the company for a lot longer than me, but I was prepared to get some conversation flowing and get some good ideas out of them! After some quick introductions, my group dove into a very productive conversation about how to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, in a taxing workplace.
ROADBLOCK! As I was facilitating this discussion, I was also expected to take notes of everything being said. This way, my supervisor would have a record of all the ideas and we could make tangible efforts to pursue them. So here I am, trying to stay involved in the conversation while taking note of every idea being tossed around. Gradually, I realized that I had faded out of the conversation and just become a scribe.
Here comes the downfall. Next, each table was expected to go around the room and have one person share out everything they had discussed. When the microphone came to my table I had asked if any of my group members wanted to share. Nobody volunteered, so I stepped up to bat. How hard could this be? I have the notes right in front of me, right? So I look down at the notes and I just start reading EVERYTHING I wrote. I very quickly realized that I sounded like a court stenographer. As I was taking notes, I withdrew myself from the interpersonal part of the conversation (perhaps the most important part) and became a glorified version of text-to-speech.
Immediately, I set the paper down and thought back to the beginning of our conversation – the part where I was most involved. Once the notes were out of sight, my presentation sounded a lot more genuine. After covering everything I felt confident on, I turned to my team and asked if their was anything they would like to add (always a good call, if you ask me). Thankfully, someone from my group volunteered to rap up the end of our discussion.
Moving forward, I need to remember that being in the conversation is more important than taking notes of the conversation. The salient points will always be reiterated and there will always be time to jot them down later.