Issue No. 236 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features a book about four kinds of meetings (including your weekly staff meeting). And…with the holidays starting, I’ve given you a couple of weeks off from book-buying-guilt; but now it’s time to get serious again. By the way, book-giving at Christmas is a great way to bless your team members. And this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Myth of Too Many Meetings
This is easy to admit—I cannot improve on Patrick Lencioni’s fast-reading, get-the-four-big-ideas-immediately book. So, I’ll just quote him in this issue.
But first…here’s another Pearson Pop Quiz! Everyone stand up. OK…now remain standing if your job requires you to attend at least one meeting a week. OK…now remain standing if you are in a minimum of five meetings a week (staff meeting, one-on-one meetings, etc.). I know…everyone is still standing. But now…remain standing if you have ever read a book, attended a workshop, viewed a webinar or had coaching on effective meetings management. (Anyone still standing?)
I use the Meetings Bucket (chapter 20 in my book) to summarize the other 19 core competencies. My top book pick in the Meetings Bucket is this issue’s book—but I’ve never fully reviewed it here. So…listen to Lencioni talk about “Sneaker Time” (pages 251-252):
“Most executives I know spend hours sending email, leaving voice mail, and roaming the halls to clarify issues that should have been made clear during a meeting in the first place. But no one accounts for this the way they do when they add up time spent in meetings.
“I have no doubt that sneaker time is the most subtle, dangerous, and underestimated black hole in corporate America. To understand it, it is helpful to take a quick look at the basic geometry of an executive team within the context of an organization.
“Consider that an executive team with just seven people has twenty-one combinations of one-to-one relationships that have to be maintained in order to keep people on the same page. That alone is next to impossible for a human being to track.
“But when you consider the dozens of employees down throughout the organization who report to those seven and who need to be on the same page with one another, the communication challenge increases dramatically, as does the potential for wasting time and energy. And so, when we fail to get clarity and alignment during meetings, we set in motion a colossal wave of human activity as executives and their direct reports scramble to figure out what everyone else is doing and why.
“Remarkably, because sneaker time is mixed in with everything else we do during the day, we fail to see it as a single category of wasted time. It never ceases to amaze me when I see executives checking their watches at the end of a meeting and lobbying the CEO for it to end so they can ‘go do some real work.’ In so many cases, the ‘real work’ they’re referring to is going back to their offices to respond to e-mail and voice mail that they’ve received only because so many people are confused about what needs to be done.
“It’s as if the executives are saying, ’Can we wrap this up so I can run around and explain to people what I never explained to them after the last meeting?’ It is at once shocking and understandable that intelligent people cannot see the correlation between failing to take the time to get clarity, closure, and buy-in during a meeting, and the time required to clean up after themselves as a result.”
Whoa! That hits close to home! Good stuff. So get the book, read his leadership fable (in the classic Lencioni style) and begin religiously implementing his four kinds of meetings: 1) Daily Check-in, 2) Weekly Tactical, 3) Monthly Strategic and 4) Quarterly Off-site Review.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) How much time do we waste in staff meetings? Who facilitates the best meetings in our organization?
2) Be honest now: how much time are you unconsciously wasting in “sneaker time” each month? Any solutions?
Bagels and Bureaucracy - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Operations Bucket, Chapter 17 in Mastering the Management Buckets, is to affirm the high and noble calling of the spiritual gift of administration.
The Operation Bucket core competency reads: “We affirm the high and noble calling of management and the spiritual gift of administration. We reject the fallacy that leaders lead and managers manage. We relentlessly pursue both effective and efficient operational solutions to organizational challenges. We are experts at ruthlessly eliminating costly bureaucracy that impedes results. We are yes men and women!
For more resources, visit the Operations Bucket webpage and read about the “Bagels and Bureaucracy” stand-up meeting idea.