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Communication strategies for remote teams: Parking lot attendant

The workshop:

This workshop discusses the Parking Lot Attendant role and its significance in facilitating inclusive and productive conversations, emphasizing the importance of intention, transparency, and recognizing diverse communication styles.

Over the course of the workshop series, Gayle Silverman guides leaders to reimagine how individuals and teams must adapt to today’s varied work environments. Inspired by TXI's inclusion cards, this series is designed to be practical, hands-on, and engaging, with plenty of opportunities for discussion and interaction. Whether you're a team leader, a manager, or a team member, our workshop series will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to thrive in a remote work environment.

Watch this workshop to learn how to:

  • Enhance inclusive conversations in virtual and face-to-face meetings through the Parking Lot Attendant role.

  • Foster trust and collaboration among remote team members.

  • Discover how to get buy-in from stakeholders, even when you can't meet them in person.

  • Explore new ways to ensure continuity and productivity, even remotely.

Workshop Host: Gayle Silverman, Principal, Product Delivery Lead at TXI

View the full workshop

The expert:

If you want to build healthier and more inclusive teams, Gayle Silverman will teach you to reimagine adapting to today’s varied work environments. Gayle is a product advocate, delivery leader and meeting coach with over 15+ years of experience in software development, and she is renowned for aligning product teams with TXI's inclusion cards. Gayle collaborates with teams to uncover where opportunity and value intersect and keeps people growing to create something amazing.

Interested in connecting with Gayle? Reach out on LinkedIn

Summary and themes explored in this webinar:

Introduction to the Parking Lot Attendant Role

  • Part of a series on effective communication in less frequent face-to-face interactions.

  • Inspired by the "Meeting Done Right Inclusion Cards."

  • Previous sessions covered inclusive hosting and the role of the devil's advocate.

The Role of the Parking Lot Attendant

  • Focuses on creating order and purpose in discussions.

  • Observes and manages conversations, ensuring they align with the meeting's intentions.

  • Identifies patterns that might lead to conflicts and redirects discussions as needed.

  • Acknowledges and amplifies positive behaviors to foster productive conversations.

  • Acts as a problem solver when discussions become tangled.

Reframing the Parking Lot Concept

  • Reinterpreting the parking lot as a tool for intention and focus, rather than a place where ideas are forgotten.

  • Using the parking lot to amplify ideas and allow quieter voices to advocate for their points.

  • Providing structure and preventing the dominance of one voice in meetings.

Benefits of Implementing a Parking Lot Attendant

  • Supports various interaction styles and prevents participants from feeling caught off guard.

  • Reduces the likelihood of making impulsive decisions out of frustration.

  • Encourages innovation by focusing on one topic at a time.

Principles and Considerations

  • Building trust and safety within the team is crucial for effective parking lot management.

  • Recognizing and managing biases when making decisions.

  • Evaluating motivations for using the parking lot (e.g., prioritization, protection, amplification).

  • Ensuring transparency in how the parking lot is managed and who oversees it.

  • Regularly revisiting items in the parking lot to prevent neglect.

  • Balancing conversation by addressing volume, emotion, and repetition to create space for quieter voices.

  • Honoring the conclusion of discussions as a positive ritual.

Striving for Conversational Balance

  • Recognizing that voices come in various forms and not solely through speaking.

  • Elevating the importance of asynchronous communication and honoring individual strengths.

  • Privileging asynchronous communicators and processors alongside in-the-moment speakers.

Parking Lot Mindset

  • Practicing self-awareness before speaking.

  • Actively putting off-topic but important thoughts into the parking lot.

  • Understanding and self-monitoring one's own communication patterns.

Leveraging Parking Lot Attendants as Facilitators:

  • Parking lot attendants can help spot early signs of group dynamics.

  • They can watch for chatter and add parking lot checks to the agenda.

  • Flagging when the parking lot is filling up rapidly without making progress on the main topic is essential.

  • The team can redirect and ensure alignment.

  • Having a billboard for non-agenda topics can be effective, signaling that these are important discussions.

  • Normalizing nonverbal communication, like using chat inputs, emojis, and numeric scales, can help manage discussions.

  • Assessing the team's engagement and adjusting meeting dynamics accordingly is important.

Team Adopting a Parking Lot Attendant Mindset:

  • Teams should view parking lot attendants as "bumpers, not bouncers," gently channeling energy rather than creating barriers.

  • Respect the decision to shift topics to the parking lot.

  • Experiment with ways to reduce traffic in the parking lot, such as adding items asynchronously before the meeting.

Guidelines and Definitions:

  • Different teams may have different parking lot formats, such as "now, next, later, never, not us."

  • It's crucial to acknowledge when a topic is placed in the parking lot but is not within the team's purview.

  • Closing the loop on ideas, even if they are not pursued, fosters participation.

Prompts for Parking Lot Attendants:

  • Use prompts for conversational redirection, such as "This context is important. Let's connect later to capture it asynchronously."

  • Seek alternate perspectives with prompts like "What alternatives are possible?"

  • Encourage open dialogue about topics that need more processing time.

  • Monitor exchanges for diminishing returns and recognize when people need more processing time.

  • Watch for patterns that may have a negative impact on discussions and address them.

Asynchronous Strategies:

  • Use parking lot attendants to review written documents, identify recurring topics, and suggest adding them to the parking lot.

  • Pre-processors can be privileged by making meeting materials available well in advance.

  • Use digital whiteboards or templates like Miro for tracking parking lot items.

Published by Gayle Silverman in Workshop

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