You have created a Lean In Circle at work and are starting to build momentum after you’ve held a few meetings. You’re noticing the conversation often shifts to complaining instead of supporting one another in achieving goals. During the last meeting, you noted that 45 minutes of the scheduled hour was spent discussing how the management team doesn’t appear to be open to promoting women.
What you can do
In advance: At Circle kickoff, establish a ground rule that though it is a work Circle and all sharing is confidential, it is more valuable to focus on how each member can support others in achieving their personal and/or collective goals than to get derailed by what’s wrong with the workplace.
As it’s happening: When members begin to jump on the “airing grievances” bandwagon, gracefully interrupt with:
“I know we all have our feelings about issues in the workplace. I’ve found it very helpful to focus on how we can add to the solution. What ideas do you have to move past the issue onto the solution?”
“Let’s stay focused on our intent/topic and remember our original agreement not to focus on what’s going wrong in the organization. Let’s bring it back to how we can be part of the solution.”
Preemptive approach: Focus the meetings around educational topics from the Leanin.Org site. This way the discussion focuses on what they learned from the resource and how they plan on applying it to their day-to-day work and future progress.