When team meetings are consistently unproductive, it’s likely a symptom of a larger issue within your senior leadership team.
I’ve made the point before that attaining the ability to scale–reaching what I call Predictable Success–depends on the organization’s leaders developing one skill above all others: the capacity to make, consistently and repeatedly, high-quality team-based decisions.
The inability to make this happen can drive many leaders crazy. After all, here we are, a mature, competent bunch of people, all of us capable of running our own business, division, department, project, group or team effectively and efficiently. But yet, when we get together, nothing seems to gel. Discussion is plentiful, but effective decisions–particularly those that get efficiently implemented after being agreed upon–are few and far between.
If this sounds like you, then the natural first place to look for improvement is in how the meetings themselves are conducted. After all, if everyone is performing on four cylinders back in their own functional area, but tripping over each other when they come together, the problem must lie in the way you meet and make decisions, right?
Possibly, but probably not.
In my experience, the problem lies further upstream, with how the senior team is constructed–at its most basic, with how the org chart works: who does what, who gets what information, who sends it to whom. Most often ineffective meetings are merely a symptom–it’s the inefficiencies, duplications, misunderstandings, redundancies, ambiguities and downright frustrations that occur before the senior team gets together that are the real cause of underperformance, and which need to be fixed first.
Here’s a quick self-assessment you can perform in 30 minutes or less. Copy and paste these 10 questions into a Word document, add any measurement scale you like (say, 1 = Definitely not; 2 = To a degree; 3 = Most always) and circulate it to your senior team. Collate the results and see where the real problem lies:
1. We each have a clear understanding of our individual roles and responsibilities.
2. We each have a clear understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.
3. There is little overlap or redundancy between our roles and responsibilities.
4. Taken together, our roles and responsibilities ensure oversight over all material areas of operation.
5. Information flows smoothly and efficiently between individual members of the senior leadership team.
6. Decisions are made at an appropriate level.
7. We meet as a team appropriately and as necessary.
8. We meet in sub-groups appropriately and as necessary.
9. Our meetings are effective and efficient.
10. Our meetings produce high-quality decisions.
Chances are, if you have an issue with 9 or 10, there’s a root cause further up the list.
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