Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for May, 2015

Advice for team meetings

Had this published last week . . . Some simple approaches guaranteed to make a significant difference in team meetings. What’s worked for you?

Advice on Team Meetings
Published in the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY, May 19, 2015:

What can you do to make team meetings more efficient and productive for everyone? Fine-tune your agenda items and create and distribute more meaningful meeting notes.

Revisit your standards for agenda items. The more doable and specific the agenda items are, the more productive the discussion. For example, if an agenda item reads: “Discuss errors on XYZ report,” there’s a risk of the discussion moving into multiple shared examples, defensiveness and frustrations. Yet, if the agenda item reads: “Discuss strategies to minimize errors in the next XYZ report” the chances of a forward-thinking, action-oriented discussion increase.

Upgrade the requirements for meeting notes and accountability, and assign a scribe. It’s not important that all comments are included in the meeting notes. It is important to note the topic areas discussed and any significant team decisions that were made under each topic. It’s also important to note any agreed-upon actions that may naturally evolve from any segment of the team discussion. Here are a few additional guidelines that may help:

• As each portion of the team discussion begins to wind down, stop and confirm the What/Who/When: What specific actions are needed, if any? Who is responsible for each action? And when can we expect each action to be completed?

• Create a concise working chart that will serve as the team’s organic Action Log — and a great tool for consistent accountability and progress. The Action Log will reflect each action, person responsible, target date for completion, and a column for current status (i.e., completed; in progress; no longer needed)

Distribute the updated Action Log to the team within 24 hours of the meeting.

Maximize your meetings. Make it a practice to create a crisp agenda, and begin each team meeting with a status update of the team’s Action Log.

Little time for strategic thinking? Ask staff for ideas to help you get started.

I often see managers so overwhelmed with the day-to-day demands of their jobs that they’re struggling to pay attention to future initiatives that call for strategic thinking. It’s tough because although these initiatives may not be urgent they can be crucial to the business and when managers are swamped future needs can go unattended for some time.

This is a quick reminder that you don’t always have to do it all—You can call on your employees to help you jump-start first steps towards a project or future initiative. Here’s how:

– Ask a few choice employees for their top two or three recommendations for how you might take the first steps towards action on a future project, or training initiative, or marketing plan, or strategic plan.

– When you ask for their input just position it as your interest in getting their perspectives and ideas. Let them know that you’re not sure what direction you’ll take just yet, but you’re confident their ideas will provide solid ideas to build upon.

– Ask to receive the (documented) ideas by a specific date and then mark that date in your calendar in the event you need to send out a reminder. This will place more accountability around their submissions and your efforts to support its importance.

The benefits of this simple approach are two-fold. People will appreciate that you value their input and you’ll finally be taking first-steps toward that dormant project or idea.