Note: this is the fourth in a new series of weekly tips to build a functional, collaborative, aligned team.
When we were first married, my wife used to make me “tuna pinwheels” once per week. She thought I liked them. I didn’t. But I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Finally, somehow, after weeks of tuna pinwheels, the topic came up of my like or dislike of tuna pinwheels. She must have sensed something in my demeanor. I had to tell her. We had a good laugh and better yet, no more tuna pinwheels.
Earlier this year, I was encouraged by Ruby Newell Legner to ask two questions at the end of every meeting that I facilitated: What went well in this meeting? and What would make the next meeting better? I did this in August for a board meeting that I was running. The feedback was that the team wanted more time for discussion. I was trying to make the meeting so efficient and effective that there was no connection or opportunity to ask questions. And I’m supposed to know how to do this.
When I am facilitating my strategic offsite process for clients, almost every leadership team has some level of frustration with their meetings. And we as leaders are too afraid to ask for feedback. Yet, it’s our job as leaders to make sure our team has great meetings, and we can’t do that without feedback.
Asking these two questions at the end of every meeting is a very easy way to begin the process of improving your meetings.
- What went well in this meeting?
- What would make the next meeting better?
Two quick suggestions for facilitating the questions:
- Don’t rush through the questions. Ask the first question and accept the silence, especially at first. Don’t speak again for at least 30 seconds, even if there is silence. It will take a while for team members to process the question and give feedback. It may even take a few meetings to repeatedly ask the questions for you to get feedback. Make it a habit.
- Don’t respond unless it’s a question to clarify. Just write down the answers and say thank you. Later, figure out if and how you should incorporate the feedback into your meetings.
The irony is that knowing what people think gives peace and clarity around how we can best serve our team.
Go get rid of those tuna pinwheels and build a functional, collaborative, aligned team!