Category Archives: #WorkCulture
“Meetings, bloody meetings”.
John Cleese parodied the typical meeting structure many years ago. And that same dread of meetings still holds on today, over 20 years later.
Many companies, such as 3M, create a culture of productive meetings. Others such as OneMonth, reduce meetings by having them only on certain days, and very few at that. While these strategies are helpful, there is still a gap in many companies as to how they hold truly effective meetings. Most meeting outlines don’t prepare for what you could call a different approach to great meetings:
“Make Meetings Matter“Tweet
Meetings matter for many bosses. They create a framework and summarize actions for the staff (their new “to do list”) and then close the meeting. What should be a team building opportunity becomes a monologue of staff being told what they’re doing wrong or what they should be doing more of. This results in a one-sided drill-down that leaves staff burdened and further drives a divide between leadership and their people.
But do meetings matter for your people? Do they learn, get valued information, and feel as part of a team? Do they regret going to your meetings with the takeaway that nothing changes or it was a complete waste of their time?
Your employees count on you to value their time, and know that they matter to you. With that premise in mind, and yo get meetings to matter more to your people, consider these strategies to build your teams and culture:
- Talk with your people, not to or at them. Build two-way dialogues and meeting structures that allows everyone an opportunity to talk. Studies show that having conversations with your employees is far more effective than a lecturing style.
- Get their input ahead of time for agenda and hot topic items. Many times meetings are used to bring everyone up to speed on policies, new events, and other items that the managers’ feel need to be addressed. However, employees may have other pressing topics that need addressing that the leader does not notice. Get their input and commit to reviewing those items.
- Build connection and trust and commitment. If you fail to enhance the relationship you have with your team during a meeting, then you have squandered a great opportunity. Meetings, done right, can be a fantastic outlet for people to let their guard down and show their concerns. Building these connections takes setting your agenda aside and working towards the best interest of your people. Find genuine ways such as icebreakers, break times, and casual conversations to get to know, truly know, who your people are.
- Infuse missions, values, and cultures that shape the workplace. This focus should be the core of every meeting (and every day-to-day interaction) you facilitate. A meeting without your core mission to anchor is gives the leeway for drift of culture down the road. Shore up your values each meeting and work ways to repeat them throughout to ingrain them into your team’s cultural psyche.
- Structure the speaker(s) more intimately. Some of the best meetings and classrooms I’ve seen are where the presenters walk around the entire room and every aisle. They meet everyone close and engage in meaningful eye contact and dialogue. Arrange the room in such ways to allow (or even make) whoever is speaking roam or even be in the middle of the group and be accessible. This type of approach not only transcends physical barriers but also roles and positions and makes for more comfort and personal interaction.
- Develop ways for others to present, teach, debate, or train during the meeting. As a leader, you should make the meeting about your most precious resource – your people. In so doing, get them involved more and more in every aspect of planning, facilitating, and presenting topics or speaking. When your team feels that they are truly part of the meeting process, they will walk away with a greater satisfaction of the meeting’s usefulness and solicit their buy-in more readily.
Make your meetings matter the most to your people. An effective environment means an effective use of everyone’s time and effective results because of how you make the meeting matter to your people – by making it theirs.
In Michael Lee Stallard’s book “Connection Culture“, he alludes to three types of organizational culture.
Those cultures are: control, indifference and connection. Here’s my thoughts on each one:
Control based cultures are where the demand for task excellence is preeminent. Micromanaging at any scale persists. And the fear of reprimand, performance improvement plans, demotion or job loss exists in perpetuity. People are not valued in these companies, but rather commoditized.
Cultures of indifference are where the voice of the employee is disregarded. Open door policies are mere semantics, or great for attracting angel investors money into the company. Employee concerns are countered with directives to figure it out or work harder. Changes are not made from the voice of those who don’t have the degree or level of knowledge to offer any valuable input.
Connected cultures are different. These companies ascribe not only a high value on their people (for real and not for show) but also allow their voice to be heard, and a part of the process. But even more, a connected culture shares a strong vision with all employees. It’s not sufficient to be first in a market, to merely win, but to have a strong enough shared vision that enriches both monetarily and communally with everyone as to what the impact of the organization will have for the improvement of all involved, customer, leadership, employees and community.
Connected cultures serve the vision, value and voice of their people first, knowing that the investment in created connected individuals and teams far surpasses any task excellence and superior performance metrics.
The demand for high performance only lasts as long as the motivational fear can carry the spirit of their people. But the organization that has a deep connection culture will always persist and find success in the best and worst of times. Connected people are statistically more committed and productive versus those people in companies that are driven to be committed and productive.
Are you fostering a culture of control, indifference or connection? The choice is up to you. As well as the results from that culture as well.
A number of studies in the last few years have similarly shown that companies that consistently spend across all levels to develop their people reap the following benefits:
- Deeper and more engaged employees – employees deeply engaged due to proper training are 200%+ more productive than disengaged employees without aligned training
- Higher productivity – sometimes up to 10% more productive
- Better profitability – consistently 24% better profits
- Higher employee retention – companies that have proper training see less than 40% turnover in an employee’s first year
Many companies claim to have a great company wide training program, when actually very few do. Which explains why 69% of employees are actively seeking new employment opportunities for companies that will properly train and develop them.
Companies that shortchange their training will misfire on keeping their best and most valuable resources – people. These statistics prove it.
Where companies fall short are in varying areas, depending on the culture and focus of the organization. Here are some of the myths, or excuses, of why training is shortchanged:
- Training should be done in the course of work, so no other expenditure of resources other than the initial orientation is needed
- Employees that figure it out themselves are the peak performers we want, so not focusing on training will create the environment for peak performers to develop and stand out
- Senior leadership should get the bulk of the training dollars because they are the ones who can make the biggest impact
- There is no time to train, we are busy and have to focus on the job at hand
- What if we train them and they leave?
- If we spend money in training, the employees will want more money
- We can train cheaper in house, or leverage technology to do it for us
- It takes too much time to develop people, we can’t afford to get them out of their roles
All of these just exemplify the real rationale: these organizations value something else other than training. They value the short-term opportunity cost of savings of money and time over the long-term benefits of growth, enhanced culture, and positive impact in their industry.
Businesses are made up of people. Therefore, business IS people. And in order for businesses to grow, people must grow. That’s where the truth of this quote comes from:
“You don’t build a business. You build people – and then the people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar
Training never comes back void, as long as it’s done with purpose and with an attitude to serve and grow each member of the team.
Focus on training every day. It never stops, because business never stops. Unless your people stop growing.