How to Run Effective Team Meetings

Categories Leadership & ManagementPosted on

MEI GroupLike you, I have been to (and led) my share of team meetings – some effective, others a colossal waste of time.

None are immune from the occasional poorly run gathering.

Want to improve?

Work to get team members to say 4 things.

1. “We go in there, do what we need to do, & finish.”

Losing focus costs time, money, & energy. Don’t let the conversation wander too far, feed personal agendas, or allow someone to hijack the discussion. If Monday is always a crazy day, avoid it. Pick a time that works best & protect it.

2. “We come prepared & understand what we are trying to achieve.”

Don’t show up & then figure out what happens next. Think the meeting through, ask for input, distribute an agenda. Expect people to come prepared.

3. “We have true TEAM meetings & strive to get better.”

Rotate responsibilities (e.g. timekeeper, notetaker, etc.) Routine is good, but too much is boring. Ask your team to rate your meetings & listen to their input.

4. “We don’t talk just to hear ourselves. We actually hold each other accountable.”

Don’t’ fall into the trap of forgetting what was discussed as soon as the meeting ends. If a commitment is made, follow-up on it. Don’t have meeting amnesia.

So, what are people saying about your meetings?

5 Questions Every Team Member Should Be Able to Answer

Categories Leadership & ManagementPosted on

Every year, organizations invest millions, if not billions of dollars to generate sales, launch new products, improve customer service, increase employee effectiveness, and reduce inefficiencies, all in an effort to ultimately deliver on strategic priorities.

Process improvement initiatives, computer systems sporting acronym-laden names, and continual reorganization efforts often lead the pack. At times, desired results are achieved and the investment is validated. However, all too often, initiatives die on the vine due to leadership changes and lack of continued funding, or the muffled conversation that the effort should have never started in the first place eventually wins the day.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

– John Wooden

The answer to achieving amazing results often lies not in grand strategies or sweeping programs, but in the ability to develop leaders and teams that drive accountability, commitment, and engagement. Unlike significant changes to policies, processes, or procedures that can be expensive, time consuming, and gum the works, causing employees to dig deeper into their anti-change fighting positions, organizations that focus on developing leaders and teams benefit from an immediate and positive impact on business performance.

Since successful strategy execution occurs where individual employees and their leaders interact and make decisions on how to employ resources every day, the biggest opportunity to enhance change is at the team level.

What to Listen For…

If you want to increase your chance of driving strategic successes, work to get as many team members saying these things about each other:

1. “I know our customers and how our work helps them achieve their goals.”

Team members need to be crystal clear on who they serve, what matters to those they serve, and how the actions of the team can positively impact what matters to their clients. This is true whether your team serves the company’s ultimate customers or another team within the organization.

2. “I am clear on the purpose of our team and the value we add to the organization.”

Team members must understand what the organization has ‘hired’ the team to do. This is more then explaining the work they do or pointing to their place on the organizational chart. It involves knowing the results the team delivers and how those results add value to the organization.

3. “I am clear on our team priorities and how they drive organizational success.”

Losing focus costs time, money, and energy. Successful team members aren’t working from personal agendas, performing activities simply because they have grown accustomed to doing them, or confusing activity with results. Instead, they are crystal clear on the goals they are working to achieve. They know where they currently are, where they need to be, and when they will get there.

4. “I know how we are going to accomplish our priorities and the role I play in making things happen.”

Knowing the goal is important, but you also need to know how you are going make things happen. Great teams are clear on who is going to do what to what standard and by when. If every team member can’t explain the plan, you have a problem.

5. “I understand how we will hold each other accountable and achieve our efforts.”

Great don’t perform simply because the boss is watching them. They perform because they are holding each other accountable. They get together regularly, make commitments to one another, celebrate successes, learn from struggles, and move forward.

Now what?

I encourage you to spend time with each of your team members and ask them these 5 questions?

  1. Perspective: Who do we serve and what matters most to them?
  2. Purpose: What is our team’s purpose?
  3. Priorities: What are our top priorities and how do they align to our strategy?
  4. Plan: What is our plan to making our priorities a reality?
  5. Performance: How does our team work together to accomplish our priorities?

 

It’s Time to Engage ‘That’ Person

Categories Leadership & ManagementPosted on

A little over a year ago, my wife and I bought a new house. Since inking the deal, we have invested much of our free time checking items off of our “to do” list. The cumulative effect of our efforts is that the house feels right – it’s comfortable – it’s home.

There are many things we value about our home.

  • It’s in a vibrant neighborhood and we can walk to stores and restaurants. On days when I feeling particularly motivated, I walk to work.
  • We’ve become friendly with several neighbors and have started to get involved in the community.
  • Most of all, the house itself is a great fit for us. We like the layout, size, and design.

Built in 1910, our home has no doubt seen its share of occupants. Some added value to the dwelling, others treated it poorly and caused damage.

I recently added a small cabinet to our home. Much like the home itself I wanted to find something unique and a way to add our touch to the place. In the quest to build the right piece, we found ourselves standing in an older building looking at reclaimed wood.

The store calls itself Good Wood. It’s motto is to reclaim / repurpose / renew.

A well organized ‘showroom’ of weathered barn wood, once discarded flooring, and enormous planks surrounded us.

We settled on a piece of cyprus.

Good Woods’ milling skills coupled with my efforts transformed the once overlooked timber into a floating shelf that rests above the cabinet I built.

The piece fits perfectly in our home. It adds value to our lives.

What’s the point of the story?

Our home and the shelf I built both share similar stories. At one point, they were overlooked and deemed replaceable or of little use.

  • Our home had fallen into disrepair, but instead of destroying it, someone made the decision to restore it.
  • The wood that serves as a critical element in our shelf had been overlooked for years until we chose to look at it differently and to repurpose it.

In reflecting on the ‘lives’ of our home and the shelf, a question occurred to me.

How often do we treat team members like the old house or the useless wood?

I believe the answer is – “all too often.”

I invite you to spend a moment considering your team or the broader organization.

  • Can you think of someone who was once a key part of the team – a good contributor – who is now burned out, disengaged, or deemed out-of-step with the organization?
  • How much latent potential is being overlooked in certain team members?
  • Who, like the house and the wood, would benefit from re-purposing themselves?

Now what?

Let’s be clear; people aren’t discarded wood or old houses. That’s where the analogy falls apart.

A house doesn’t decide to repair itself or refuse to take on a fresh coat of paint.

People can resist even your best attempts to help them flourish regardless of how well intended your efforts. However, the potential for pushback, rejection, or even rebellion shouldn’t keep you from doing the right thing.

Here are four steps to get you started.

  1. Reach out to the overlooked or disengaged employee. Invite him to grab a cup of coffee with you.
  2. Share your intentions for the conversation.
  3. When you sit down to talk, share your observations. Be forthright, but not disrespectful.
  4. Ask him what he thinks. Then, listen – really listen. You may have to probe a bit by asking further questions.

You may be pleasantly surprised where his answer takes the two of you.

Appreciating the moment

Categories Inspiration, Your CareerPosted on

Sometimes when things are going well, we find ourselves not appreciating the moment, but yearning for more. Or, we are anxious about what is around the next corner.

Experience has taught us that, for the most part, we are either moving forward or sliding backward. A business is either evolving or unraveling. A plant grows and dies, but doesn’t remain static. Occasionally we must hit pause and appreciate wherever we are on the journey and thank those who choose to travel with us.

Occasionally we must hit pause and appreciate wherever we are on the journey and thank those who choose to travel with us.

Are You Fostering Enough Fear and Anger in Your Organization?

Categories Leadership & ManagementPosted on

If you think that our world is terrifying, dangerous, and insane.

Guess what? 

It is; and, it has always been that way.

Every generation has faced its own terrifying, dangerous, and insane version of the world.

Arguably, what makes today seem worse is that this is our time. This is our experience and the media loves to fuel our fear and anger.

If something horrible happens anywhere in the world, it is immediately displayed on your smart phone and plastered across the nearest television screen.

Suddenly…

  • Your next plane flight is doomed
  • You shouldn’t go to public places
  • You better be ticked off at ‘those’ people

I imagine that you may be thinking… 

You’re right, we do live in a world filled with fear and anger, but why would I possibly want to foster a culture of fear and anger?

I am NOT talking about the type of fear and anger the media often fuels.

Allow me to explain my thinking.

Being fearful about things and angry at times is part of the human condition.

Show me someone who claims to never be fearful or angry, and I will contend that you are pointing to a person who is burying feelings, lying to you, or in need of serious self-reflection.

Or, worse yet, you have identified an individual who is unable to feel, indifferent about the situation, or lacks any concern about the outcome.

Now, think about your culture?

If we define culture as what the majority of people do the majority of the time.

Do you want the majority of your people to bury feelings, lie, deny self-reflection, become indifferent, or foster a lack of concern?

Of course not.

Perhaps you want them to fear and become angry at certain issues and at appropriate times. You may even choose to fuel those feelings. Here are a couple of examples:

  • You want employees to fear disappointing their teammates, This could mean failing to deliver what was promised OR, better yet, not asking a teammate for help.
  • You want them to take risks and innovate. Fear comes along with these behaviors, but you can help them to still take chances.
  • You want them to be angry if they continue to experience the same problems without learning anything new or improving performance.
  • You want them to be angry about what your customers are angry about and have the desire to help your customers succeed.

“The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised.” – Aristotle

The key isn’t to suppress feelings.

What comes along with these feelings is to encourage people to appropriately deal with their feelings. According to Science.com, there are three options:

  1. Hold the feelings in
  2. Let them out in a burst of energy
  3. Control them

Consider this.

If an employee holds in feelings of fear and anger, he is likely either to take them out on on others in his life or start to work on his resume (perhaps both).

If an employee lets the feelings out in a burst of energy, she will often cause damage across the organization. Others will be upset and likely retaliate or start working on their own resumes (perhaps both).

However, if we demonstrate control and deal with our fear and anger in an appropriate way, everyone can benefit.

As a leader, here are some behaviors you should foster (and model) in your culture:

  • People should feel comfortable addressing issues that cause concern as opposed to avoiding or burying them.
  • People should treat one another with respect. As Stephen R. Covey said, “If two agree, only one is needed.” In other words, disagreement is fine. It is often the spark of something great. However, disrespect should not be tolerated.
  • People should feel that they can fail at times. The fear of failure should be more about not achieving your best, vice not having a job. Learn to ask questions that focus more on “What can we learn from this experience?” or “What can we do better next time?” Avoid the “Why did you do that…?” type question. People just shut down when you appear to be judging compared to learning.

In the end, people won’t remember the specific goal that you set for this quarter or last year, but they will remember what it felt like to be well led. They will remember what it felt like to contribute their energy to something that mattered and to be their authentic selves along the way.

Best- Patrick