(615) 656-0465 mark@markskenny.com

Note: this is the second in a new series of weekly tips to build a functional, collaborative, aligned team.

If your weekly team meetings are spent just giving status to each other, stop meeting. There’s just no point. Or keep it confined to only asking clarification questions and be done. You can post or email everyone’s status, everyone can read each status, and you’ve saved yourself a bunch of time.

If you want to build a functional, collaborative, aligned team, instead spend your weekly meetings debating, challenging, and engaging in vibrant discussion around the problems, challenges, and decisions that need to be made. That’s where your meetings will begin to add real value and deliver results: when we are drawing out each other’s opinions, everyone is contributing, and we have the trust to debate important issues.

Patrick Lencioni talks about this when he says that meetings should be like movies.

Here are some tips to make this happen:

  • Create and live from a team playbook. This forces you to make decisions ahead of time to determine what is important to the team. Email me if you want me to send you a sample playbook.
  • Streamline status reporting. If you must give status in the meeting, make it short and sweet. For example, give everyone 1-2 minutes to report status. Better yet, expect everyone to submit their status ahead of time. Spend the bulk of your time debating the issues that are worthy of your team’s time.
  • Separate the tactical from the strategic, by using the playbook as your agenda. (see last week’s tip).
  • Draw everyone out. Set the expectation that everyone contributes to the discussion. Draw them out by asking everyone’s opinion. Caveat: some people, myself being one of them, need time to process before contributing. Know your team. You can set the expectation that everyone contributes while giving people time to process before contributing.
  • One conversation at a time. Pass a “baton” around if needed. Make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that there is only one conversation going on at a time. No interrupting. That doesn’t mean that you can’t debate and challenge each other. It does mean that we do so respecting and listening to everyone’s opinion.
  • We debate issues and ideas, not interpersonal frustrations.
  • Set and post rules of engagement ahead of time. Include some of these items above. Remind everyone of the rules of engagement before each meeting. Email me if you want me to send you the rules of engagement that I often use when facilitating strategic team offsites.
  • Once the debate has been had and everyone has contributed, the leader needs to drive to a conclusion and move on to the next important topic.

Now, your meetings will be more productive and meaningful. Not only that, but everyone will feel a sense of team and will be more likely to commit to a course of action, even if they didn’t initially agree with it.

Go build a functional, collaborative, aligned team!