Do people in your organization complain about the lack of or quality of communication? Are meetings sometimes painful, disjointed or unproductive? Here the definitive tools that help frame issues to improve meetings, as well as how to frame and time meetings for optimal team communication.
A core dysfunction of most meetings is that the wrong issues are being mixed into the discussion. This happens when you don’t have enough of the right meetings. Best practice is the following:
Quarterly Off-Sites – 1 or 2 days – Review strategy, competitive and industry developments & issues and trends, team building. Best if done away from office, allow for unstructured discussion, use a facilitator.
Monthly (and as needed) Strategic – 2 to 4 hours – Focus on critical strategic issues affecting the long-term direction and performance. Limit to only a few issues. Encourage debate.
Weekly Tactical – 30 to 90 minutes – Review metrics, activities and obstacles/constraints. Set agenda only after each person has given a one-minute over view of their top 3 projects and/or issues. Table strategic issues for monthly
Daily Stand Up – 5 – 15 minutes max! – In allotted time each person shares synopsis of yesterday’s accomplishments, what they will do today, and any obstacles. Everyone is standing.
Weeklies without dailies will tend to be far too long and thus painful. Try the daily meeting routine for three weeks and call me as to how it worked. It takes communication to a whole new level. Trust me on this one folks!
Next you need to become a master of framing issues. When I hear people drop a bomb of a complaint or assertion that seems to be off base or distracting from the agenda I immediately begin to think about where the point fits in the following:
Timing: Is the issue in the Past, Present or Future and thus is it a I. Problem II. Decision III. Planning or VI. Innovation issue?
PAST: If in the past then it is either a concern or a problem, concerns can be recognized and noted, but action is usually not needed, problems usually require action.
Problem Solving: A problem requires three things, 1. Deviation from standard performance 2. Cause that is unknown and 3. That I care. Flatly state if you are deciding to take the meeting into Problem Solving mode then take these steps. a. Write down and define the problem b. Determine when it began c. Discern what change caused the problem. At this point decide if it this meeting is the best time for Problem Solving or if it should be scheduled later as an agenda item.
PRESENT: When a meeting is in Decision Making mode then it is focused on the current realities, and alternatives must be evaluated on the three factors of 1. Musts 2. Wants & 3. Risks. Using a simple scale between risk and reward on each option will help your team agree on decisions they are making together.
FUTURE: In the Future focused facet of meetings you are focused on either Planning or Innovation. Planning is about agreeing on objectives and assignment of resources and roles. Innovation is about creating a new dimension of performance and requires a different approach than Planning or Decision Making. If you label an agenda item as Problem Solving or Innovation it is much easier to stop the Negative Nancys and Nicks that are only shouting why something can’t be done or costs too much. That type of input is for Decision Making.
Set up your four types of meetings and frame issues as Problems, Decisions, Planning or Innovation and watch your meetings and communication transform into growth building more enjoyable events.
If you think your team would benefit from implementing the above call us for both free resources as well as training and consulting options that can help your team implement solutions ASAP.
Mark Faust 513-621-8000