One of the questions I get asked all the time is…
“Do we meet too much as a leadership team, or do we meet too little as a leadership team?”
“And when we meet, what should we be talking about?”
I think there’s five or six different leadership teams I’m working with at the moment, and I’ve seen everything you can do wrong, and I’ve seen everything you can do right.
If you get meetings right you get the balance of strategic and operational right and you allow relationships to develop and you get work done.
If you get the meetings balance wrong, people sit there like it’s a waste of their time.
Which one do you want?
I’ve worked out that with leadership teams, there are two reasons they have meetings.
1. They have meetings because they need to align their activity to achieve their shared goals. So any time they meet to make decisions or to plan what they’re doing to achieve the results they’re after – they are alignment meetings.
But if the meetings are ALL that, and there’s no relationship building, eventually what happens is people don’t trust one another and you don’t get shared accountability, which I’ve talked about before.
2. So there also needs to be connection meetings.
So the two reasons that leadership teams will meet is either to build alignment or to build trust.
The biggest mistake I used to make is I’d say to them: Alright, your meeting needs to have the connection bit where we all talk about our lives, and our families, and lots of stuff, and then you can do the alignment bit. And I’ve actually realised that doesn’t work.
Integrating the two means neither of them get done well.
So I’ve started suggesting to clients that they separate the two types of meetings and they do both types really well.
Let’s talk about the framework I use: The biggest problem with the alignment side is that most leadership teams spend too much time in the operational, which means they’re not creating value for the future and they’re not building future revenue.
My suggested rhythm is to have a quarterly strategy meeting, which I have a framework for and I help them run. Then on the operational side, we have monthly or you might want to have fortnightly, depending on where you’re at, meetings that actually talk about the implementation of that strategy.
The biggest change that I usually make is the connection between these two.
So the shared goals that we talk about at the quarterly strategy meeting, and the opportunities and risks that we need to address, there is a connection between those and the monthly meetings, so they’re actually being actioned and delivered upon – and I can help you do that if you need help.
The second one is the connection meetings. It used to be typically that we’d go out for dinner, or we’d go and race or some other team building activity. Some of those work and some of those don’t… But every quarter, there needs to be an event which is just about hanging out as people. Not talking about the business, just getting to know one another and who we are, about our families and our lives, and building trust. You can do that through team building, you can do it through a dinner, you can do it through drinks, but what I recommend, is don’t try and do the two at the same time .
Don’t try and do the work and then do the hanging out.
Just make the connection meeting all about them and about building relationships within the team. There’s a lot of regular daily or weekly things you can do that I think make a big difference too. The one that’s really popular at the moment and that seems to work really well with my clients is I get them to set up a WhatsApp group. I don’t know if any of you use WhatsApp – I find it much better than Messenger. It’s internet based and it allows for immediate banter, taking a bit, taking it out of one another, which is all good, and it also allows for immediate updates of the actual work and aligning together. The other one is regular calls with other people on the team. I know you do it already, but that daily, weekly rhythm keeps the trust high.
To summarise: Two reasons we have meetings as leadership teams – one is to align our activities so that we achieve our goals – the second is to connect as a team so we build trust.
The big lesson that I learned was to separate the two. If you try and integrate them, you won’t do either of them well. By separating them people know the purpose of the meeting. With alignment, have a quarterly strategy meeting and then a monthly operational meeting, and then with connection, make sure on a quarterly basis, you’ve got a chance for the team to hang out together as people, dinner, team building, whatever it is. And then have a daily system where they’ve got an opportunity to interact and connect with one another.
What I want you to do is think about your team, think about your leadership team and where the gap is. Are you spending too much time with alignment? Or too much time on connection? …and what changes would you make to either your strategic or operational meetings to get the balance right in your team?
Hopefully this system is something that you can go ahead and implement.
If you need help, talk to me about how I make it work.
Good luck in the coming months with this system, good luck with your team, and I’ll talk to you next time on The Reason & The Road.