What can meetings tell you about the Leadership Team?
I work with businesses that are going through change. When I first roll up my sleeves and begin working with the team, there are a couple of issues that I dive straight into. One is to check labour turnover levels as it’s the best indicator of staff satisfaction, and the other is to get involved in meetings. Why? Well, in my humble experience, they are a predictor of general team performance. Good meetings illustrate high performance, and bad meetings mirror poor performance.
In those very early days, when I sat in a poor meeting, I often noted that the team were not being open and honest about the problems they were facing. They may be hiding the truth from one another, they may be playing politics, blaming other parties and certainly issues are not being solved. A wise chap called P Shaw once said, “A meeting consists of a group of people who have little to say – until after the meeting.”
Another indicator for me of a really bad meeting is that there appears to be a sort of Buzz Word Bingo going on. You know the type of phrases… “strategic staircase, lack of bandwidth, deep dive, living the values, and my personal favourite, let’s touch base about that offline. (I think it means let’s have a private chat – but I am still not quite sure).
Guess what? There is a golden opportunity for improvement! So, in this article I will share a couple of my top tips about getting meetings to work well. I am not going to share all of them, as you can hire me for that.
Get to know how individual’s brains are wired
According to John Medina, in his book “Brain Rules”, no two people have the same brain, not even twins. Every student’s brain, every employee’s brain and every customer’s brain is wired differently. As the leader, you can either accede to it or ignore it. If you ignore it you probably will not recognise that every member of your team is seeing the issue that’s being discussed at the meeting from a different viewpoint. If you face the fact that we all come at things from a range of angles you will begin to reap the benefits.
Tip 1. Do some simple personality profiling or a learning styles questionnaire to help you understand how your team of individuals think and how they, personally, like to receive information Share it amongst the team.
If issues impact the whole team, go for agreement
Adept strategic decision makers regularly use teams to solve urgent problems. Sometimes, in a crisis the leader has to take the ultimate decision, but generally, if the issue affects the whole of your team (and their department), then get everyone involved and allow him or her consensus in reaching the decision. Consensus is agreement, but not necessarily unanimous agreement; it is what most of the team can support. This is not some insipid, watered down way of running meetings, it requires quite a bit of skill by the Leader to get right. Conflict within a decision making team is inevitable, so steer it to positive aims. Where there is conflict there is passion, and as the leader you are in the best position to harness that passion, control internal politics and foster consensus.
Tip 2. The best decision in the world is nothing without a powerful consensus for action but once you make the decision, decide which individual on your team will take overall responsibility for the action point and ask them for a deadline to deliver it.
Employ “No” People
Let’s face it, most people reckon that to do well at work they need their boss to like them, appreciate them, respect them, so they don’t like to disagree with their superior. As the leader, why not forge a culture in which your people can say NO to you? Allow them to disagree with your plans and feel comfortable enough to back it up with reasons or risks and suggest better solutions. Use their alternative view of life to negotiate different ways of solving problems.
Tip 3. Establish some rules for debate that includes having respect for and listening to one another’s opinions, and stamps out non technical jargon
Don’t expect a good leader to run a tranquil, unruffled meeting. Good leaders know that meetings are about having respect for one another and facing up to the tough issues, listening carefully, asking the right questions, encouraging the introverts, the critical and creative thinkers and managing conflict. It’s how they create energy, innovation and jolly good decisions!
Finally, heed the wisdom of David Walliams, British author, presenter and comedian. “Why do we take notes of meetings that last for hours and call them minutes?” He’s got a point you know!
I’ve got lots more tricks up my sleeve. Want me to share more? Call me now on 07976 509 551 and let me come and sit in on some of your meetings. I’ll give you feedback that can transform your business.
Ruth Gawthorpe is the owner of The Change Directors and works with businesses to improve their business performance….through their people. She has learned many lessons during her career which she now uses to help businesses transform.