How To Have A Better Meeting

How To Have A Better Meeting

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash Last week, we discussed this era’s overreliance on Zoom, and when we need to step away from the video call — or from a meeting altogether. It’s just not always necessary! Remember: a meeting exists for one reason only: to solve a problem that can’t be solved any other way. Passing along information doesn’t require a meeting; it can be accomplished with a report. Having a discussion or solving a problem is what meetings are for. Most meetings are a waste of time — and this is coming from someone who goes to meetings for a living. But for the times you really, truly do need a meeting, how can you make sure it’s as effective as possible? How can you grow as a team to make your meetings powerful and efficient? I always recommend a process of growth. Every meeting you have, take time to review and see how you could have done it better. A great question for the end of a meeting (when they don’t run over and need to end abruptly) is how well did the meeting go, on a scale of 1-10? Go around the room. Everyone answers. No debate, just a number. After the team answers that, then ask: what could make that number a 10? Again, everyone answers. The whole process takes a minute or two. No debate. Most people view most meetings as a waste of time; this simple process asks people not just to quantify the value, but to help improve it to a 10. The questions help the team to look inward and see what they could do differently, and provide a space for...
Video Conferencing and When to Avoid It

Video Conferencing and When to Avoid It

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash Personally, I avoid video conferencing whenever I can. My wife does Zoom calls all day and is exhausted from it. I do one or two a week and hate them. Zoom has replaced meetings, but these digital replacements are not the same as meeting in the boardroom. You feel like you have to constantly look at your screen, maybe just making sure you don’t look weird. When you are looking at the faces on the screen you aren’t looking at the camera, so you don’t have eye contact. It becomes a false image of truth. It keeps people from really being themselves because they are unable to make quality eye contact and establish that real connection. As The Gambler taught us, “Know when to hold’em, know when to fold‘em.” Sometimes you need a Zoom call, but most of the time you probably don’t. An old school phone conference call, Slack message, chat, email, or text may be more appropriate; there are so many methods to communicate these days, but for some reason we’ve depended too much on Zoom in this season of COVID. Part of this is because we want to see peoples’ faces; we want to read their expressions, because we think we’ll connect more from it. Often that’s true, but with Zoom? It’s often not. First of all, there is a mistaken perception that we are gifted at reading expressions. We all think we’re better than we actually are! Malcolm Gladwell wrote a whole book about how bad we are at reading other people’s faces, titled Talking with Strangers. The book explains that we have a way of reading...

Letting Go Of Knowing What’s Next

One of the hardest things a leader faces is giving themselves permission to actually feel, to actually be sad, to actually not know what they are doing. Right now, that means recognizing that with the pandemic and everything going on, no one can pretend to understand or know what’s coming next. We are afraid, we are sad, we are confused, we are lost in so many ways. Putting on a face and pretending we’re good when we’re really not — you aren’t doing yourself or your team any favors by pretending you are. Things are bad. Nothing is normal in this season. We think we are supposed to know how to handle these sorts of situations as leaders, but we don’t — because this is a new experience. Your team knows you are as confused as they are. You need to be honest with your employees about where you’re at. It’s a funny thing — as leaders, we can miss so much opportunity. There’s a radio commercial for Comcast Business, where they say, “More than bouncing back we want to help you bounce forward.” We are so focused on getting back to normal or business as usual, hoping that this pandemic will just end and everyone will go back to work. To think our job as leaders is to maintain sanity, or the status quo, or “normal,” is incredibly dangerous. We are headed toward an unknown season. For our teams, we need to realize that when we can sit in those hard places, in the confused, in the sadness, in the new, we open ourselves up to more and better health and connection. If I...
Taking a Moment to Review Your Relationships

Taking a Moment to Review Your Relationships

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash “Books are meant to be read from beginning to end, but they are best understood from end to beginning.” – from the 2016 film Mr. Church.  Like books, situations can be better understood when looking at them in reverse. Some divisions or organizations are masterful at debriefing important events with their teams to dissect the learning and improve the processes and results; most, however, are not. Most are afraid to have an honest critique for fear of being wrong, or “held accountable” in a negative way. Critiques are taken personally and protectionism kicks in creating defensiveness. What if more teams were able to have constructive, empowering, and engaging assessments of their successes and failures, courageously asking what worked, what didn’t work, and what did they not do that they could have to have helped? Imagine taking time to learn from their mistakes, to better work together as a team during ordinary moments as well as high-stress moments. This kind of learning can only be done in reverse. We can only assess high-stress situations with our team when we go back and look from the end back to the beginning and seek to understand our own failings and work to get better. This sort of review works for all teams in all kinds of industries from firefighters and SWAT teams to production and manufacturing floors to sales organizations, health providers, significant others, and families. It is an act of love to look upon your relationships, personal, professional, or otherwise, and make sure you have tended it well. Such love is worth bestowing upon anyone you engage with on a...
A New Lens for Foundational Leadership

A New Lens for Foundational Leadership

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash Beware of the way things have always been done, they can hide a great deal of creativity. Working with law enforcement I was enthralled when a civilian who works for a Sheriff’s Office referred to the deputy level of the organization as “The foundation” rather than the traditional “subordinate” nomenclature often used to describe this entry-level. I really fell in love with that. It gives a whole new meaning to foundational leadership. This group of employees, those on the front lines, or in other industries, those that work on the factory floor, that clean the bathrooms, that fix the computers, that keep the doors open — they are the foundation of the company, they are the ones who actually make the organization run. Upper management may be directing them, but those on the ground are actually doing the grunt work. Doesn’t it change the imagery, emotion, feeling around leadership, when we think about the people who are at the bottom of your organization as your foundation? It matters to have a strong foundation – in a house or in an organization. No matter what you are leading, too many leaders look at that level of the organization as expendable. They make the lowest pay, they are the highest numbers, they often have the highest turnover and we tend to think of their skills as lower level and replaceable. But Foundational? And yet they absolutely are the foundation. They are likely the most public-facing and doing most of the hands-on work. And the only way to build that foundation is to open yourself up to trust...