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February 02nd, 2012
So many corporate teams are raddled by strained resources, frequent deadlines and multi-tasking. I am working with a few clients in exactly this position. In one case, the CEO still manages to schedule regular management meetings. This is a good thing for reviewing progress, learning new team competencies and if need be, recalibrating objectives for better results. The not-so-good part is that because they are only monthly, the meeting agendas are generally so chock-a-block that there is little time to ‘renew and connect’.
Recently, this team acquired a new member. Let’s call her Georgina. She has great power and influence and a strong willingness to participate. She will be instrumental in helping to promote the company’s vision of the future. She has also achieved great results before, literally rebounding from the depths of bankruptcy. The CEO and the team recognize her potential for helping them all achieve better results this year.
My role on this team is, as usual, “meeting fairy” instilling the importance of team norms.. My responsibility is to provide an equal and open forum and make sure that all agenda items receive adequate coverage.
I now face a new challenge with Georgina in these brisk meetings. I have noticed among her talents one incredible skill: she can speak for up to 90 minutes without a single break – I kid you not! As an experienced meeting fairy, I am extremely skilled at jumping in with force after a breath or slight pause to move the conversation on. But, wow, with Georgina I fear I have met my match!
So what am I to do about this powerful, authoritative and influential person who dominates the forum? What do you need to do when all participants of a meeting buy-in and agree to the norms except one rebel?
This problem illustrates one very basic rule of thumb: get all new members to buy in to the team norms for meeting participation. I must make this the key issue.
I have decided to meet one-to-one with Georgina in order to do three things:
- Bring forward the team norms.
- Be transparent about my inability to fulfill my meeting fairy responsibilities with her monologue behavior.
- Negotiate a solution for future meetings with her input.
Have you ever met a Georgina in one of your meetings? If so, what did you do?
Next week I will post the outcome of my conversation with Georgina – come back to find out what happened!
April 19th, 2011
Emotional Intelligence is a critical component for healthy teams and productive meetings.
When working with others, I develop my emotional intelligence by practicing a high level of self-awareness. This came in handy the other day when I was on a conference call with two experts on my team to develop a new, web-based tool.
When I say experts, I mean that each one of these individuals has specific strengths that I do not possess. Therefore, when we are on a conference call, it’s really important that all three of us have acute listening skills. In order to be effective in our collaboration, we need to understand the other person’s position as much as we understand our own.
On this particular day, I was quite stretched. It was late in the afternoon and I could feel a cold coming on. At the 60-minute mark into our call, my concentration ability had flatlined.
Instead of hanging tight, I stated “I am full, I need to end this call because I can no longer listen or take in any of the details that are being discussed…are you willing to continue this conversation in the morning?” I then shared the information about my cold, etc.
The next day, one of my colleagues told me that he really appreciated how I ended the call. He admired my ability to be straightforward and stated that, in the past when he had been in similar situations, he often toughed it out in order to get through the meeting. He now realized the consequences to himself and others in doing that.
When you feel full, make sure you let others know so that you can get back together and have another effective meeting at a later date. With this behaviour, you will raise the bar for meeting engagement on your team.
Have you been in a situation where you zoned out of an important meeting because you were overloaded? What did you do? What did you miss? Or maybe you’ve been able to speak your truth and end a meeting before your brain shut down. How did that feel? How did your colleagues respond? We’d love to hear from you!
March 18th, 2010
I once asked a very successful marketer how she could jump into an industry she knew nothing about and in a couple of months nail their new brand strategy. “I listen,” she said, adding. “It’s like magic.”
She’s certainly not alone in the high value she places on listening. Management gurus, such as Tom Peters, have been emphasizing the power of listening for years now, because as it turns out, most of us aren’t very good at it. Not even doctors find listening easy, says Peters, and that’s when it can be matter of life and death. Imagine what it’s like in the average business meeting?
Peters makes the point that an organization-wide commitment to what he calls “strategic listening” is even more important than a good strategic plan.
Fortunately, learning strategic listening isn’t difficult, though successful application takes some practice. It starts with commitment at the top. Leadership teams need to agree on its importance and then commit to teaching listening skills to other team members.
There are a number of listening models from which to chose, any of which are easy to teach and simple to apply in any day-to-day situation. To help you out, I’ve created this free ebook that outlines my proven model for strategic listening. You can download it here: Communication Loop_Ebook
Once you’ve taught team members the elements of listening, you can help enforce the skill by using conversations with peers and direct reports as “learning opportunities” to illustrate the listening technique.
Team leaders who have implemented my strategic listening model tell me it’s one of the most efficient, cost-effective ways they’ve found for improving decision-making, conflict resolution, and even interpersonal relationships. Why not see what it can do for your team? Let me know how it goes—I’m always listening!
October 06th, 2009
I’d like to share a story that doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s a story about what happens when a high-functioning executive team with well-defined roles, strengths, and dynamics suddenly loses a member and fails to adjust. If you’re a CEO or senior executive, don’t let this happen in your organization.
I recently worked with a company that had offices across Canada and an executive management team that had been together for over 10 years. They communicated well, were willing to give direct and corrective feedback, shared an understanding of the strategic and tactical goals of the company, and reviewed their metrics with regular monthly strategic meetings.
The company was lead by a female CEO, whose father had passed the company to her 10 years prior. She had stepped into the role with no previous experience and decided to bring in outside resources to establish norms of effective teaming, help the team articulate the strategic plan and understand how to review it on a regular basis. (This is where I came in – facilitating the annual strategic planning process and monthly management meetings.)
She had a consensus building leadership style; she put issues on the table for discussion with her trusted team and then, if necessary made the final decision after weighing all of the viewpoints. A key role at the table and, definitely her primary strength.
As profits soared and the executive management team dynamic flowed effortlessly, she decided to have her first child. I was excited to see how this team would now step up and take on strategic and tactical decisions in her absence. What a possibility for the team to grow to new heights, to function with a deeper level of commitment. It’s interesting how her decision to have a child, could also birth the next level of possibility within her executive team.
Before she left, this CEO needed to pass her authority to another member of the team, but, unfortunately, she didn’t let go of her role. She chose not to do so. Instead she simply left to have her child. She assumed the team would continue to function in her absence.
Instead the team floundered because a primary leadership strength – building consensus and making the final decision was no longer at the table. Not one of the executives had the ability to make final decisions when needed. Their once dynamic meetings became meetings of discussion after discussion without decision making and actions of how to move forward.
I sometimes wonder whether this CEO recognized her primary strength and role on this team. Why didn’t she assign responsibility for decision making while she was gone? Was she paralyzed with fear that the executive team would function in a different way in her absence. making it difficult for her to find her place on the team when she returned? Watching the team flounder was extremely difficult – I was saddened by the lost opportunity for the CEO to birth both a child and a more highly functioning team.
April 19th, 2009
Are you throwing your time and money away with training presentations that are quickly forgotten? Check out this video on making training presentations more effective for your team. You’ll learn:
- How fast we forget.
- What it takes to retain knowledge.
- How to stop wasting time and money on training.
- How just 10 minutes of review can help your team “overcome the forgetting curve” and boost your ROI.
There’s a strong ROI case for making time to review presentation material after the fact. According to the Ebbinghaus Curve + Article: University of Waterloo, within 24 hours of getting new information, participants who spend 10 minutes reviewing it will raise the curve almost to 100% again. A week later, it only takes 5 minutes to “reactivate” the same material and again raise the curve. By day 30, your brain will only need 2-4 minutes to give you the feedback, “Yes, I know that…”
What do you think?