Tuesday, June 14, 2005

How to Conduct Great Team Meetings

"If I have to attend another meeting, I'll never get anything," Steve complained to me during a coaching session.

"What's a typical meeting like at your company?" I asked.

"Some are ok, but too many of them are disorganized, people show up late, we get sidetracked all the time, and most people can't wait for them to end so we can get back to work."

Does Steve's complaint sound familiar? Most meetings are a waste of time and money. Conducting a meeting is a skill and most people have not had the opportunity to learn this skill so they repeat the habits they learned while attending other ho-hum meetings. During Steve's coaching session, we reviewed numerous ways to improve his company's meetings. Here are three essential ingredients you can use to improve your meetings:

1. Write down your meeting objectives.
What do you hope to accomplish? Answering this question with one simple sentence will help you develop and focus your agenda. Open your meeting by reviewing the purpose so everyone stays on-track. Here are a few examples:

The purpose of this meeting is to brainstorm ideas to increase sales for next quarter.

The purpose of this meeting is to review the status of the ABC project.

The purpose of this meeting is to introduce our new team members and develop our common goals for the year.

2. To meet or not to meet? That is the question.
Now that you have established your meeting objectives, it time to determine whether or not a meeting is the best wayto achieve your objectives. Consider the salaries of the participants, the other tasks that are being delayed, and any costs for the meeting room and travel. With that in mind, is getting together really the best method to accomplish the tasks at hand? When others know that you respect their time and conduct meetings only when absolutely necessary, they will attribute a greater sense of importance to your meetings and attend with the right attitude.

3. Make a habit of starting on time. Close the meeting room doors and start at the specified time. Start no matter who is in the room and do not recap for latecomers. You don't want to penalize those who arrived ontime for the sake of those who did not. One manager I know puts a jar labeled "Latecomers Fund" next to the meeting room door. Tardy attendees contribute one dollar for every minute they are late!

Now you can use the same proven tips, tools and techniques used by the world's top leaders and meeting planners! As a professional speaker and trainer for 20 years, I've attended thousands of meetings and learned what separates average meetings from incredible meetings. My newest e-book, "How to Conduct Incredibly Productive Meetings" will transform your meetings and get you the results you want. Use this special link to find out more http://www.teambuilding123.com

I also want you to know about my e-book "12 Simple Do-It- Yourself Team Building Games." It's quickly becoming one of my best sellers and receiving rave reviews. If you're looking for simple ways to liven-up your next meeting and help your team become more effective, use this special link to find out more: http://www.teambuilding123.com

Reprinted with permission from David Greenberg's Simply Speaking, Inc. 1-888-773-2512 or 404-518-7777 http://www.davidgreenberg.com/

(C) 2003 - 2005, David Greenberg's Simply Speaking, Inc. (R)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Helping Teams Navigate the Maze of Change

I have conducted my "Navigating the Maze of Change!" program for hundreds of organizations. In this program, teams must cross an electronic maze, a checkerboard-like carpet where I have programmed one safe path that will get them across without triggering an alarm. Very similar to their changing work environments, there are many unknowns and risks involved as team members try to identify the safe path. Here are a few key lessons the participants discover about dealing with change and uncertainty that you can use to help your organization reach its goals:

1. Teams are more effective when everyone understands the plan. Almost without fail, teams step on the maze without having a shared plan. They tell me they did this because "time is money," but employees who don't understand the organization's strategies and lack confidence in decision-making are much more costly. How well informed is your group? Ask them!

2. People need support and trust to take reasonable risks.When someone triggers an alarm on the maze, most team members look disappointed, and some even walk away in frustration. How eager will someone be to try again after experiencing that reaction? If you desire employees to be creative and take reasonable risks, reward their positive behavior, NO MATTER WHAT THE RESULTS, and reassure the person that he or she is still a valued member of the team. If you don't reassure the person, their willingness to take risks and continue trying will certainly diminish.

3. View “failures” as valuable lessons for everyone.Stepping on unsafe squares on the maze and triggering the alarm is a necessity in order to discover the safe path to success. When failure is feared, it is avoided at all costs and kept secret when it occurs – only serving to harm the organization. A reporter once questioned Thomas Edison, “Mr. Edison, I heard you failed nearly a thousand times before inventing a light bulb that worked.” Edison replied, “I did not fail 1000 times. I learned 999 ways a light bulb will not work!” How does your organization view "failure"? Ask them!

4. Celebrate all success.When someone finally crosses my maze, the team typically gives a thunderous applause. But where was the applause for the person who made it only to the first row, the person who made it only to second row, and so on? We must reward all successes, for they make it possible for someone to make it all the way across. Who gets the recognition in your organization and how could it be improved? Again, ask! Oh, and listen closely, too.

PS: Visit our main website for lots more great teambuilding ideas, teambuilding games and teambuilding exercises that can help you and your team to be more successful: http://www.teambuilding123.com