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I want to hold weekly team meetings per MT recommendations, but my team doesn’t seem to want to. Some people encourage me to “start slow,” but that seems like it would send the message that  team communication is subordinate to other priorities when I think it’s where our team needs to improve most. I ask myself: am I leading by forcing my agenda, or am I being stubborn and ineffective?

 

For context: I recently announced at a team meeting (where I simultaneously recommitted to O3s) that my team would be starting weekly team meetings. We are a team of four, with three frontline fundraisers (individual contributors) and an admin who is a hybrid individual contributor producing research and reporting on team activity for the organization. I gave the team over a month before we started in order for them to get used to the idea and have a clearer schedule.

In the meeting, one direct complained that weekly was too often and asked to do biweekly. One said he’d try whatever I want. The other was characteristically quiet. Since then, the objector has said she’ll try whatever I ask, the one who said he’d try whatever has shown passive signs of resistance (he travels a lot and frequently will do things like telling me to find time on his calendar, scheduling things when he has to leave early for other commitments, and pointing out how hard it will be to hold team meetings given his travel schedule to Asia), and the last has begun to show signs of resistance, as well, asking me in our recent O3 if we could simply do team meetings every other week and just send out updates on off weeks or sharing a template that he thinks could be useful for team reporting but telling me he’ll only use it if we meet biweekly instead of weekly. I haven’t gotten to feedback, let alone negative feedback, so I think the right thing to do is just to keep pushing forward.

But, again, to summarize, I wonder: am I leading, or am I just being stubborn? 

I’d greatly appreciate others’ thoughts. If I’ve missed a similar thread on the boards, please feel free to direct me there. I don’t mean to duplicate.

thanks!

pucciot's picture

I highly recommend a weekly team meeting.

They are not always the greatest meetings each time – but aggregately helpful.

And you might want to address and adjust the timing and format to better suit your needs.

I have received pushback as well -- and I have seen the fruits anyway.

The Team Meetings should be about the team updating each other about what they are doing.
Even if their departments are functionally different.

After the Manager's Waterfall 

I have my folks do 2-5 min headlines.  What did you do last week ?  Who did you workwith outside the dept ? What are you planning next week ?  Any time off or meetings in the next week that we need to be aware of.

Then have a New business or Pressing issue portion.

With your small team it could all be about 30 min. - 1/2 an hour isn't that bad.

I also set up a Part 2 of Staff meetings where we tackle one Topic.  And it may not even need to include everybody.  So anyone not involved with that topic can leave.

Here are some common pushbacks ..

Q - Why weekly ?
A - One word : Memory !   It is hard to remember more than a week back or more than a week forward.  If we did the meeting Bi-Weekly or Monthly we would forget things and always focus on the most recent thing on our minds. -- It doesn't work.

Q - Why a team ?
A - Because we need one common time when we are all together.  It forms bonds between us.  We get used to seeing each other.  Most likely there will be some side jokes, humorous exchanges, commiserating about recent failures let downs, or company news.

Q - Do we have to do it when you are not here ?
A - Yes, of course.  If I am out sick or on vacation - You are still a team and should know what each other are up to.

** We need to be curious and concerned about the good work that we all do here. **

I expect each of you to be curious and concerned about each other’s work.

It helps us coordinate and communicate better during the week.

BTW
I have seen the fruit of this several times.

Occasionally, a staff member does their update and another person comments that "hey I didn't know you did that" OR "I have a suggestion about how to do that better" OR "that will affect me and my work - can we talk about it more together".

Whenever that happens I say out loud --- "And this is why we have these meetings folks !"

And lastly -  Don't discount the role that humor has.
If there is a moment when the team laughs together - it is a moment of binding.  Every laugh you hear is a tie together that will last outside the meeting.

I hope this helps

Good Luck

TJPuccio

P.S.  If at the most basic level the Staff Meeting is an ordeal that they share --- it is still a common binding experience for them. {grin}

foxtrot6's picture

Thank you! It's really great to have such detailed and thoughtful encouragement. I really appreciate it.

jazzlover's picture

I've led 2 teams, and their attitude toward weekly team meetings couldn't be more different -- one who relished any chance they had to connect with each other and hear how they were doing, the other pushing back at the idea of weekly meetings for the reasons your team has.

Previous team meetings for the more resistant group were biweekly, and were essentially my waterfall followed by a round table along the lines you outline. After listening to one of the MT 'casts, I came to the conclusion that giving everyone a chance to talk about what they're doing wasn't of any real value. I started thinking about what would make the team meetings valuable enough to hold them weekly.

There was already a weekly meeting of most of the team that was operations-focussed: what happened last week, is happening this week, and will happen in the next 2 weeks. I told the team that I would extend those meetings from half an hour to an hour, everyone would attend, and the first half hour was for my waterfall and anything that they wanted to ask about, discuss, or share. The second half was as before. 

The team still has little to nothing to offer in the first half of the meeting, but occasionally they will raise something after the second half.

I've come to the conclusion that while my team don't really enjoy each other's company, they don't have to to be effective. I wish it was otherwise, but I'll settle for meetings that serve a purpose and let us do our jobs effectively. 

 

pucciot's picture

Pulling the two meetings together for only a 1 hour meeting seems like a great idea.

Good luck.

 

You may want to consider the idea of letting some lucky folks out of it early if the 2nd half of the meeting's topic may not be applicable.

Otherwise,  I hope you can give it time.

You will be surprised how over time, and some laughter, a cohesion will begin.

They will start bringing up things that they heard each other say during the meetings.

----

When I started with my small staff of 5 disparate folks with vastly different functions, I didn't think I was getting anywhere.

About a year later, I started seeing them defend each other when challenged by other departments or initiatives.

I started to hear them talk about "us" and "them".

Well that is not the greatest thing -- but it showed that they started considering our little Department as an "us", that did not exist before.

 

***  Bring Lunch to the Meeting one day – they will lighten up.

 

Good Luck

 

TJPuccio

 

 

dyesalot's picture

We hold weekly staff meetings for my staff of 7 (soon to be 8).  These meetings are led by two different staff members who swap monthly.  We do a waterfall, followed by a round table (focused on successes last week, goals this week).  In practice, some staff also share project status.

What makes it work for us is the ground rules we set when we started meeting last year.  Most important of these:  end on time.  We're focused on making this meeting efficient & effective, so that it's hard to find a reason to feel the time was wasted.  Some weeks are better than others, of course, but overall, feedback from staff on this meeting is positive.  It also give me an opportunity to delegate some responsibilities to staff who may develop into supervisory roles in the future.

Win-win!

mercuryblue's picture

I am quite a long time listener but can’t remember or find the guidance on team meetings. Can someone please point me in the right direction?

mercuryblue's picture

Thanks pucciot- much appreciated.

foxtrot6's picture

 I’ve gotten the meetings started, and my directs have complained that I’m too demanding on their time and that the way I structure the agenda “isn’t leading.” They want me to choose a theme to work on each week. 

First, I thanked them for their honesty. Second, I listened without committing to changes. Third, I tried to incorporate their comments into the coming week’s meeting by encouraging them to promote themes for their 10 minutes. One of them responded by asking to talk about a task that I have intentionally not been sharing with them. This particular employee has repeatedly violated my trust, blowing his budget and asserting that he had a right to, for example, and tries to elbow me out of conversations. He’s an older employee, close to 50; and believes he was a candidate for my job.

My plan is to answer questions but remain vague. I am wondering now if my lack of full transparency is a mistake.

I have tried to be pretty transparent, but what do you do when you feel there’s something about which you need to be discreet, especially when you don’t completely trust your directs?

I’d appreciate any suggestions. By the way, I am introducing feedback this coming Monday. It’ll be a while before I get to adjusting feedback.

jazzlover's picture

The issues you're having with the employee who asked about the confidential matter sound like a feedback item for a one on one. There's at least one 'cast about "giving feedback before it's time" that offers guidance about giving feedback before you've done the rollout. I would caution you to stick with one thing at a time, and don't start providing feedback on past issues. There's a very high risk you'll establish feedback as a "bad news/score settling" conversation that it will be difficult to climb back from.

You might also devote some time in a future meeting to ground rules around what you can/can't communicate. You can explain that while you always want to communicate as much as possible about things that may affect your reports, the organization also expects you to exercise discretion around when it's appropriate to share information. If you outline this, and ask that they trust your judgement, that will give you an out in future -- you can just tell them "wish I could tell you more, but I just can't yet" and because you've briefed them, they should understand.

Good luck!