Death to Boring Staff Meetings!

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As a manager, I appreciate the value of weekly staff meetings. They provide an opportunity for my team to step away from the heat of the front lines to share ideas and solve problems together. It's also my opportunity as a leader to clarify our vision, and ensure that the team is focused on the things that will drive the business strategy forward.

Yet, for years I was dissatisfied with my staff meetings and worried that they were too much like some of the time-wasting meetings that I've had to attend over the years. My primary challenge is to understand what should be on the agenda on any given week. There are always many things that could be put on the agenda, but which things should be discussed? How can I ensure that we make good use of the time spent in my staff meetings every single week?

A few months ago I began running my staff meetings using an approach outlined by Patrick Lencioni in his book, "Death by Meeting". I've been delighted with the results, and the feedback from my team has been enthusiastic. Here's how it works:

  1. Leader Review

    I open the meeting by quickly sharing any information that I need to communicate to the team. This includes notes of encouragement, applauding accomplishments, and sharing any problems I've noticed. I also share information that I may be gained from the CEO and other executives that my team needs to know. (But no gossip!)

  2. Lightning Round

    During the lightning round, each member of the team provides a 60-second review of the top 2-3 things that are currently on their minds. Hot projects and tough problems are the most common things shared in the lightning round. I've found that it's very important to enforce the 60-second time limit. Otherwise, people will revert to giving long-winded descriptions of everything they've done since the last meeting - including mind-numbing minutia.

  3. Create the Agenda

    The team creates a prioritized list of 3-5 things they want to discuss based upon what they've heard in the Lightning Round. I provide input, but the creation of the agenda is very collaborative. We usually create our agenda in 2 minutes or less.

  4. Information Sharing and Problem Solving

    This is the heart of the meeting. We work through our prioritized list of agenda items, sharing information, defining solutions to problems, and making decisions.

This approach to staff meetings has been refreshing and valuable to my team. I leave the meetings every week with the satisfaction of knowing that we've spent our time on the things that are most valuable for my team - clearing obstacles and providing clarity so we can move with confidence during the coming week.

One reason this works is that we carefully separate tactical items from strategic concerns. If we run into a larger strategic item that requires lengthy discussion and analysis, then we set that item aside for our monthly Strategic Meeting. Sometimes, of course, it's necessary to schedule a separate meeting to deal with larger items. In my opinion, this separation of tactical and strategic concerns is the primary reason that this methodology works.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kevin Survance published on August 12, 2008 9:50 AM.

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