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Copyright © 1997, Sivasailam Thiagarajan. All rights reserved.

Here's a neat activity to ensure that everyone shares the responsibility for maintenance functions during a team meeting.

When participants arrive, they write their names on individual index cards. At the start of the meeting, someone collects these cards, turns them upside down, shuffles them, and passes them around. Everyone takes a card, making sure it is not the one with her or his name. The name on the card (which is kept hidden from others) is the person's secret protégé.

During the meeting, everybody contributes to the discussion as usual. In addition, each person secretly monitors his or her protégé and makes sure that person participates appropriately.

For example, if your protégé, John, is withdrawn, you may encourage him by saying, "What do you think of Mary's idea, John?" On the other hand, if John dominates the discussion, you may ask Mary, "What do you think of John's idea, Mary?"

Set aside 5 minutes at the end of the meeting. Ask participants to identify their secret coaches. The whole idea is not to be spotted by your protégé. This means that you distribute your coaching comments to several different people during the meeting, which is a good idea anyway. Also, you may work through someone else to coach your protégé -- which is another good idea.

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