The Lost Chapters
Who Called this Meeting?
Conduct Effective Staff Meetings
Meetings have an interesting place in the leader’s toolbox – they can be the most maddening, time-wasting, energy draining hours of the week, or they can be among the most efficient and important activities the leader calls upon to move the agenda forward. Which is it for you? You no doubt attend a lot of meetings every week – maybe dozens or more (count them sometime; if you’re up around 25 a week, it’s time to take a hard look at how you’re spending your time). If you’re like most leaders, you attend (or lead) some efficient, well-run meetings, and probably a few really ill-defined, poorly led meetings. But meetings don’t really deserve the bad rap they’ve gotten over the years; they are a time-honored and efficient way for a group of people to discuss topics and make decisions. It’s not meetings that are to blame – its leaders who don’t create a strong meeting purpose, structure and environment.
There are a lot of different types of meetings, of course, but in this chapter, we’ll discuss how to efficiently bring all of your direct reports together for the classic team or staff meeting….
I spend most of my days helping leaders discover ways to be even more effective, and a lot of these conversations are about how they can use their time more productively (time being an executive’s most precious resource). I start by asking how they spend their time today, which is a question that produces a wide variety of answers (and, not surprisingly, a lot of confusion and frustration). Eventually, we get around to two sets of meetings – regular staff meetings and 1:1’s with their direct reports. Why? Because while these meetings take up space on the calendar, they can actually save executives time if they know how to leverage them. Almost every leader I meet does the staff meeting thing, although some do it better than others (see Chapter 51). But sometimes leaders look at me funny when I ask about 1:1’s with direct reports, like it’s something they’ve never considered.
Here’s my bias - I believe all leaders should conduct regular 1:1 meetings with each of their direct reports. I recommend weekly, 1-hour meetings with each direct, but understand that some leaders with large numbers of direct reports may have to limit the sessions to 30 minutes or conduct them every other week (by the way, if you have more than 8 direct reports, you have too many; time to empower someone else to supervise some of these staff members).…
I often get the chance to work with emerging or high-potential leaders in corporate leadership development programs. What a great experience - it’s always rewarding to see people get excited about leadership, and to help them realize their potential as leaders. The programs that I design make liberal use of a concept known as “leaders as teachers’ which means that a lot of the content is taught by the company’s own senior leadership team. From an experience and “realism” perspective, it’s hard to beat the hands-on knowledge and expertise that senior leaders bring to the classroom.
One of the highlights of the “leaders as teachers” format is a session with the CEO. Having the CEO address the group gives participants a chance to hear from the top leader, ask a lot of questions, etc. It also gives the CEO a chance to spend some time with the next generation of leaders.…