In your next weekly team meeting, take a moment to look around. What are you seeing? Are your team members engaged—are they looking at each other, leaning forward, nodding, and exchanging ideas? Or, are they staring at their computer/phone or leaning back with arms crossed and eyes glazed? If you are on a virtual meeting platform, have everyone turn on their webcam so you can observe the non-verbals. However, you might not even need to do this to know that people aren’t really “there.” It is usually pretty obvious when everyone has muted their line and proceeded to work on something else, daydream, or run errands during your meeting.
Think about the last in-person meeting or conference you attended. Close your eyes and visualize the space. Was there a stage? What was on the stage? Was there a notepad or a glass of water at your seat? A tablecloth? What was the lighting like in the room? What was the temperature? Who was sitting at the head of the table? Was there a whiteboard or a big screen?
How much did misalignment cost your organization in 2020? Misalignment comes from poor planning, and it results in poor execution and missed numbers. The missed numbers happen in many categories: poor customer delivery, lost revenue, employee frustration/bad morale, great people leave the company and the loss of great customers. You don't want your team looking like this one.
We’ve known for a while that an increase in remote work was coming, and the pandemic has accelerated this trend. Many workers are eager to return to offices (some have already), and many more want to continue working from home for the foreseeable future. Gallup found that 2/3 of the people who have been working remotely due to the pandemic would like to continue doing so.
For over a decade, our consultants have worked with client CEOs to help them exceed industry standards and build great companies. Having seen thousands of business plans and helped hundreds of CEOs around the world, some very clear patterns emerge in our work. We’ve distilled the most important factors to building a great company of aligned teams who execute flawlessly into a simple system. I say “simple,” because the concepts are easy to understand; however, they can be challenging to implement—just as the concept of exercise and balanced diet are easy to understand but be difficult to achieve.
In my last blog, I talked about how most meetings suck. Now, I want to focus our energy on ways that we can fix them and have effective meetings. One of the biggest complaints that I hear about bad meetings is the lack of an agenda or getting it two minutes prior to the meeting. While having a meeting without an agenda is horrifying, I have attended several bad meetings that had a detailed agenda sent well ahead of time! The problem was that the agenda didn’t cover all of the areas that the company needed to discuss in order to grow their business. It isn’t just having an agenda; it is about having the right management meeting agenda template focused on solving problems facing your organization.
Weekly Team Meetings…we’ve all got them. Conventional business wisdom has proclaimed since the beginning of time that the weekly staff meeting is a necessary evil. Lately, ditching the time you spend in meetings is a popular productivity hack, but without the regular time to collaborate with your team, you miss valuable problem-solving time and run the risk of everyone working in a silo—potentially on the wrong things.
As I was scrolling through my social media feeds this week, I noticed a trend that more tech companies are announcing a permanent move to hybrid or even a “remote-first” approach for the indefinite future. As companies look to 2021 and make budgeting and resourcing decisions, it’s not a mystery why many are choosing to reduce investment in physical spaces and double down on the remote work infrastructure if their business model allows it. That means many of your meetings will be moving online to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Skype or any of the video conferencing applications available.
Are your meetings the butt of work-related jokes? Why is it that we roll our eyes with disdain when our calendar is loaded with meetings, and more specifically, why do we dread the planning meetings that are so important to our strategic success? Let me ask, have you used senior team members as facilitators? If so, you’ve likely chosen the wrong person. Save yourself an unwise decision before your next planning session. Don’t choose your CEO or an executive team member for strategic planning. If you do, you’ll pay for it all year (or quarter) based on the plan developed and the pain to get there. Most executives are great at their jobs, but they don't have all of the qualities of a good team facilitator and may not be the best at facilitating a productive discussion. When you are in charge, it is hard to be an active listener, which is extremely important to bring out all the great ideas from the team and cover every relevant point of view.
The foundation of a successful Daily Huddle Meeting, Team Huddle Meeting or Weekly Huddle Meeting is a great facilitator to keep the weekly team huddle on track for an effective and productive meeting.
Team Huddle best practices:
Be dedicated. A good facilitator is dedicated to the regular meeting rhythm. Weekly Huddle Meetings and Daily Huddles should happen on their designated days/times without fail and held to strict time limits. If a person is not able to attend, they should still prepare by doing their Weekly Meeting Prep and sending their Victories, Priorities and Stucks to the Daily Huddle facilitator so that their voice can be heard. A good facilitator holds the team accountable to being prepared for each and every huddle.