There are few things more soul sucking in corporate life than the bane of wasteful meetings.
It’s the kind of meeting where there are just too many participants; many of whom were invited in the name of “engagement” because they were deemed as necessary stakeholders with interests. Or the kind where people show up and provide updates rather than discuss decisions that drive an agenda forward (which makes the meeting extremely vulnerable to folks who feel they need to talk to be heard, rather than having something to say).
This infographic by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, by way of Harvard Business Review, is a helpful tool that I’m going to start sending out as a response to meeting invitations I receive where I’m highly doubtful of its value.
Here are the steps in more detail:
- Have I thought through this situation? When you don’t have clarity about what you’re doing on a project, it’s tempting to schedule a meeting to give you the feeling of progress. But unless the meeting’s intent is to structure the project, at this point, scheduling a meeting is an inefficient use of your time — and your colleagues’. Instead, set aside some time with yourself to do some strategic thinking. During that time you can evaluate the scope of the project, the current status, the potential milestones, and lay out a plan of action for making meaningful progress. Once you’ve completed your own strategic thinking prep work, then you can move onto the next step of considering whether to hold a meeting.
- Do I need outside input to make progress? You may be in the situation where you know what needs to be done, and you simply need to do the work. If you find yourself in this place, don’t schedule a meeting; update your to-do list and take action instead. However, if after clarifying what needs to be done to the best of your ability, you need outside input to answer questions or give feedback before you feel comfortable jumping into action, continue on.
Does moving forward require a real-time conversation? If you need some answers to questions, but they don’t require a two-way conversation, e-mail can be an excellent option in lieu of a meeting. This is particularly true when you’re looking for feedback on your written plans or documents. It’s much more efficient for everyone involved if you send over items that they can look at on their own (while you’re not awkwardly watching them read during an in-person meeting) and then shoot you back feedback. If you feel your situation does require a real-time conversation, then examine different communication channels.
- Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting? When you need two-way communication but don’t necessarily need to see the person, you have a variety of options. An online chat can help you answer questions quickly, or for more in-depth conversations, scheduling a phone call or video conference can work well. This not only saves you transition time of going to and from a meeting place, but you will more easily able to get stuff done if someone is late, instead of having to sit and wait for them to show up.
- If in the end, you decide that you need face-to-face, in-person communication, then schedule a meeting, and think through in advance how you can make it as efficient and effective as possible. That means considering your intent for the meeting, establishing your desired outcomes, and preparing any materials that you should review or send out in advance.
The Harvard Business Review shares three ingredients that lead to job satisfaction. Whether you are a leader responsible for the jobs of others or whether you are looking for a job yourself, you’ll probably find that the best job fit for you is one that lets you do:
- What you like to do. If what you enjoy doing most is useful, it ought to be part of your career.
- What you do best. Many people spend years trying to improve areas of weakness. Focus your energy on mastering what you’re good at.
- What is valuable to the organization. Figure out how your particular strengths can be used to better your company, unit, or team. A sense of contribution will make you feel more engaged.
If your current role doesn’t fulfill all three, talk with your manager about changing some of your responsibilities. If there is a real mismatch, consider switching organizations or careers.
Never underestimate the importance of Vision… and, even more so, how to effectively communicate it. The greatest, most dynamic companies that I have seen tend to be those who have a clear vision that is easily articulated and shared by everyone – akin to a mantra or mythos for the organisation. Heck, I’ll go as far as to say that even the Bible considers having a Vision vital to the survival of a team: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
So, the Harvard Business Review highlights 3 ways to more effectively communicate your vision:
- Repeat yourself. To rally people around your vision, you need to remind them of your message and reinforce what you are trying to achieve. Don’t worry about sounding like a broken record. In fact, I will go on as far as to say that – even though it sounds like “old news” to you – someone, somewhere may need to hear it yet again to spur them on.
- Make it two-way. Don’t pick up a megaphone. Be sure to create dialogue around your message so that people hear it and understand it. Not only that, as I mentioned earlier, an easily articulated vision that people are engaged with eventually becomes a mantra or mythos that everyone participates in and owns collectively.
- Put out calls to action. Don’t just tell people what you imagine for the future, ask for their help in making it a reality. Be specific about what you want people to do and why. This is, to me, one of the most important steps that leaders often forget. Many people listen to a vision-casting speech and end up enamoured by the charisma of the leader – but often walk away wondering just what in the world are they supposed to do to pitch in.
As a self-proclaimed student of “influence” – I always enjoy articles like this, “5 Powers That Get Ideas Off The Ground” via the Harvard Business Review. The article talks about 5 important powers that a person needs in order to kick start their idea – so that it is adopted and implemented onwards to success.
Although they may seem quite self-evident, I think the reality on the ground is that they are often overlooked or even ignored – to the detriment of the initiative mooted.
From the article, the 5 powers are:
Continue reading “5 Powers That Get Ideas Off The Ground (via Harvard Business Review)”
Adapting from this Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip Of The Day, here are three tips on how to spearhead and maintain internal branding, communication and change campaigns:
- Create Memorable Messages
Have clear, memorable, succinct messages that are emotionally compelling and easily repeated. Oftentimes, this should also be linked to clear benefits to the audience members themselves. That way, they can be transferred to one another easily – think of it as starting your own internal viral, word-of-mouth marketing campaign.
- People Prefer Stories
People will always be able to remember stories much better than facts or numbers. Create or share stories (such as by linking the campaign to an ongoing, larger narrative or using testimonials) that talk about or illustrate what you want to communicate.
- Have A Clear Call-To-Action
It is not enough to just “sell” people onto the campaign – ultimately, for true buy-in, there must be a clear call-to-action so that the audience can participate and do their part for the campaign. Be clear about the action you want your people to take and ways they can start today. Once people know what they can do to help; oftentimes, they will do it.
These three tips interact with one another to create a sustained communication loop that feeds an ongoing campaign. This is particularly important since getting employees to rally around the brand; ensuring that internal messaging is disseminated effectively; and creating enduring change are not one-off events but rather an ongoing campaigns that require discipline and determination.