Achieving effective meetings requires all members of the team to find opportunities to improve. When individuals start to see wasteful processes and actions by others in the organization, an open dialogue can begin on how to improve. Identifying small things in the everyday business process can help build significant results.
As a manager or team leader, we must recognize everyone has their own personality and brings something unique to the table. One thing we can do is develop and hone the skills of our employees with high-level training. We can provide workshops and education to improve the soft skills of each individual, so they become a highly capable professional. We can stress the importance of finding waste in the system, and show how actions in a meeting create these problems. The goal is to enhance every team member's skill set to become high-powered professionals.
Doug gathered his product development team in the parking lot, ready to present their technical feasibility to a prospective client. They were in line for the bidding to supply a major automotive part for a future vehicle with a major automotive manufacturer. This contract could potentially be the major profit-maker for the next four years for the company. His team must give the best presentation of his life in order to win this contract.
Doug's team was the best of the best. He personally trained them in technical reviews with clients. He created a series of soft skills workshops to hone his team in dealing with the customer, answering questions appropriately, and running highly effective meetings. Doug was positive this training was his ticket to a major promotion inside the company. He believes that everyone has talent, but what makes his team elite is the high level of development of their professional soft skills. He thought this was the key to having a competitive advantage over other prospective companies trying to win this contract.
Doug's team entered the conference room early. His team members immediately turned off their cell phones. They started the meeting with quick introductions and short backgrounds on each member of the team. They kicked off with a short background on the company and their capabilities. They presented a current automotive part they were producing to the client as a strong example to see and feel. They described what they are capable of doing and how they could meet the customer's requirements. They took questions at the end of the presentation and answered every one with sharp, precise technical answers.
Two weeks later, the vice president of the company walks into Doug's small cubicle. "Doug, this cube is too small for you."
"Huh", Doug replied, a bit confused on the interesting welcome the vice president spouted out.
"You are moving your desk over by mine; we need a director that can train and develop all of our staff on high-powered teams," the V.P. explained. "We don't need you to follow the new contract we got; we will let someone else handle that."
Doug was elated; he was spot-on with his belief that shaping the skills of his employees would create an elite team under him. Because of all the hard work, he is the director of the department.
9.1 Behaviors of the Team Defined
The teams all have different personalities inside each work group. Leadership and team members easily identify these personalities.
Once you understand and know each type of personality you are working with in the group, it makes managing them much easier. You learn how to approach and handle each person.
The three categories each personality falls into are:
Task-oriented behavior – These people focus on the task at hand in the meeting.
Relationship-orientated behavior – The people in this group focus on relations involved in the group.
Self-directed behavior – This self-serving, destructive behavior needs close managing by the leadership.
(Association for Manufacturing Excellence, 2002)
9.2 Task-Oriented Behavior
The team members that exhibit this behavior tend to focus on the goal of the meeting, or completing each task on the agenda items.
Team members with this personality tend to ask for facts or information to clarify a point. They are generally looking for proof to the statement or information provided.
Team members with this personality will tend to provide facts and information regarding the subject. They are the subject matter expert on the topic, and will share their knowledge to achieve the goal of the meeting.
Team members with this behavior will tend to lead idea and fact generation inside the meeting. They try to create ideas through exercises, like brainstorming, to achieve ideas.
9.3 Relationship-Orientated Behavior
The team members that exhibit relationship-based behaviors tend to focus on maintaining good communication in the team. They are very proficient in networking with inside and outside sources to bring assistance when needed.
Team members that show these personalities tend to be the referee in the meeting; they keep things at peace and resolve conflict quickly.
The team members with this personality are the ones that tend to encourage and coach others in the group. They are the supportive, encouraging, and create an atmosphere of positivity in the meeting.
Another behavior some of these members might exhibit is the "gatekeeper" of the decision making process. Before any decision, this person will always make sure the entire team is satisfied with the direction the group is going.
The member with this personality is the negotiator; they will get everyone to a consensus, stop conflict, and will promote ideas and decisions that make the most sense.
9.4 Self-Directed Behavior
The individuals in this type of behavior tend to be more concerned with their own personal success, than what is best for the team.
Team members with this type of behavior can become a distraction or a roadblock to the success of the team. The leadership in the group needs to manage these personalities skillfully.
A form of this behavior shows they tend to cling to others for direction. They do not initiate any activities on their own, and often depend on direction from others to perform.
Some team members will show competitive behavior; they will challenge the team leaders for control of the group. They tend to speak out, interrupt, or challenge other members for dominance.
Team members with self-directed behavior will act the role of class clown. These members do not enjoy rigid structure, have a tendency to get bored easily, and start to act out disrupting the meetings. These have to have constant stimulus to stay focused.
If managed properly, these behaviors can be effective for the meeting, but leadership must understand and direct these tendencies into a positive contribution to the team.
9.5 Effective Communicators
Effective meetings have team members who have developed their skills in communication with formal training, or are generally a relationship-oriented personality.
Team members are able to have an open and honest conversation on the topics in the meeting. The team is open for any opinion and feedback from the members.
Criticism is constructive and focused on achieving the same goal of the meeting. Disagreements are good, because the team is looking at all options and possibilities.
Excellent communicators create a strong network of peers that they can lean on for information and expertise. Elite team members will keep a contact list of all the people and their job title, and it has become very easy to keep with the use of the smartphone.
Effective communicators are not afraid to say, "I don't know," when there is a question they cannot answer. This is the first step, because they are being honest and truthful to the person asking the question. It is better to say, "I don't know," than to give a dishonest or unknown answer.
When a high-powered team member cannot answer a question, or does not know the answer, they are not afraid to ask for help. They will communicate and contact someone within their network to help give them the correct answer.
9.6 Willing to Access Themselves on Performance and Identify Waste
Highly skilled teams evaluate themselves for faults or problems they might be causing. This comes from honest and constructive feedback from other peers. This is not criticizing the performance of a team member, but giving advice on how to get better.
Team members are willing to identify opportunities of waste in the system they are causing. They encourage self-improvement to eliminate the waste in a meeting.
Team members give feedback to the chair or leadership on potential improvements to help the meeting run effectively. Every idea is valuable, even the ones that are way out of scope. These ideas can spur more additional ones for efficiency improvement.
Bad habits are hard to break, which is why teams with members skilled in identifying waste help point out these things. Team members might not even know they are creating waste, because they do not realize they do things out of habit. Powerful teams can point that out and break bad habits in the organization.
9.7 Devil's Advocate
Having someone that always disagrees with the team in the meetings is actually valuable. While most members see this member as a roadblock, this person is actually being the guardian against groupthink.
There will be a team member that always disagrees or questions everything, this person should not be considered a problem, but managed as someone who is a guardian against bad decisions.
The Devil's advocate is the person who will question everything. As a team leader, you have to manage them as a powerful tool, asking them their opinion while making sure they do not disrupt the process of the meeting.
The Devil's advocate is welcomed by high-powered teams, because they give information or experience that helps the team. They are the guardian against making a decision before all alternatives are considered.
Project leads should not dismiss the input of the team member as Devil's advocate, but manage the personality to make sure they do not go off on a tangent and become disruptive.
When managed right, the personality that questions everything is a great barrier to jumping to quick decisions as a team. They are the ones who help bring the team back to analysis of the topic on the agenda.
Dealing with the many different personalities in the meeting is a daunting challenge for leadership. A skilled leader is able to recognize each individual's behavior, and to manage with confidence. A great team leader is able to clearly see the goals he or she needs to accomplish, and strives hard to continuously move toward achieving them.
An effective leader needs to have a set of desired skills and traits that encourage members of the team to follow them. They develop the skills over time, with education, training, experience gained on the job, and lessons learned from past mistakes. The qualities they have developed make them proficient at running a meeting effectively, and are considered to be a strong resource of talent in the company.
For management and leadership, knowing the traits and qualities that make up good leaders helps create a development opportunity in the organization. You can train and develop your employees to take on these qualities and gain the experience needed to become effective leaders.
The accounting department has been under fire from upper management over the past three months. Gerald, one of the truly talented auditors in the department, was worried. He did not like the direction the department was heading and had a legitimate concern. Management understood his concerns when he voiced them, and was doing everything they could to make their best employee happy.
The department had undergone several leadership changes in the past six months. They added several new hotshot accountants that recently graduated with business degrees from Harvard and Yale. They were taking over the management role in the department, and were to be the new face of the company. Gerald did not like the fact that senior management was passing over the career advancement of experienced team members.
The first team meeting, Charlie took over as the new manager for the accounting department. He was fresh out of college and joined the ranks as group manager. The team had settled down, and quickly Charlie spoke up.
"Ok. Please be quiet everyone. The first order of business is to start work on the Woodward account; I need people to get moving on it immediately, because it's overdue."
Gerald spoke up. "That account is on hold right now due to litigation and an audit by the IRS. They sourced that to Canfield, and we have to wait until they are done to verify results."
Charlie paused for a moment. "Please do not interrupt me again. Since you like to disrupt the meetings, you get assigned this task."
Gerald nearly fell out of his chair. He could not believe the response over his remark, and was quite frustrated. How could this young man lead a group when he would not listen to what people are telling him?
A week later, Charlie was expecting results on the Woodward account on his desk. Instead, he received a resignation letter from their top accountant, Gerald.
10.1 Organized – Effective Task Managers
The effective team leader is skilled at knowing the big picture -- what the goals are of the organization. They are able to communicate these goals to the team.
Good leaders are able to understand the short- and long-term goals of the company. They are able to ask, "Is this truly good for the business?"
Task-oriented leaders are results-driven. They want to produce tangible results with their team and accomplish the goals set for the meeting.
The task-oriented leaders are in tune with many of the events in the company, and have great clarity in the business objectives.
Relationship-oriented leaders want the group to succeed. They consider their team highly talented and wonderful to work with. As a leader, they will stand up for their team members.
10.2 Strong Facilitator
As a strong team leader, they have the skills to unify the team and understand their goals.
They help create a plan of action, or agenda, as a pathway to achieving the goals set by the leader.
Leaders trust the team to accomplish the action plan and goals they set.
When the team achieves goals or tasks, leaders direct praise and recognition to the members who accomplish it.
They knows when to call a meeting with a large group, or to bring in a small team to accomplish the goals.
They understand the idea-generation process and use techniques that help the team focus and deliver something tangible.
10.3 Strong Integrity
Good leaders have strong integrity; they are open and honest with their team.
Great leaders gain trust from the team, because they do what they say.
Leaders with strong integrity will make decisions based on information and data, and their own personal assessment, rather than what is a popular opinion.
Strong leaders will act with a sense of purpose. They are here at the business to achieve the goals of the meeting.
The leader with strong integrity values honesty, commitment, and trust. (Bowes)
The strong leaders with integrity make their decisions and remain steadfast to them. They are convinced that is the decision to move forward with, and do not let peer pressure change the course.
Great leaders are always available and accessible to their team or employees. They are willing to listen and open to feedback.
Leaders will always be transparent. They are truthful and open to all the aspects of the business, from finance to business policies.
The leaders of the meeting do not have any favorites; they treat each individual the same.
Strong leaders will have the skills to be respectful to all members of the team. In turn, they expect everyone to be respectful to them.
Respectful leaders recognize team members' work and praise accomplishments.
Respectful leaders interact with team members in an open and honest way.
They hold themselves responsible for mistakes, and will not place blame on members of their own team.
They will stand up for their team members, and take responsibility to guard against outside conflict or influences.
10.5 Confidence in the Team and Themselves
Effective team leaders are confident in their abilities, as well as their team's capabilities.
Leaders are confident and secure in the decisions made that affect their team.
They're willing to make mistakes and own up to them. Mistakes made by leaders with integrity and honesty are not deliberate, but honest gaffs. The leader will own up to it and create an action plan to correct it. Management should never punish a team or leader for an honest mistake.
Self-confidence of a leader brings trust and respect from the team.
10.6 Deliver Decisions Quickly
Confident decision-makers will move forward as soon as they have enough information. They do not dwell on useless data.
The team leader quickly stops any information that takes too much time, such as runaway presentations and endless loop debate.
Great leaders are able to process the information immediately, and ignore non-value added jumble.
A skilled leader will truncate or stop the flow of information that is not business-decision driven. Any additional assessments that do not affect the team's goals are non-value added and ignored.
The leader is confident to make decisions, even when not all of the information is present; they do not want to delay moving the project forward.
If the information is not available, they are able to use their networks to get the information and feedback quickly.
10.7 Able to Determine Calculated Risk, Make Business Decisions on Limited Information
Skillful leaders are in tune with the task and project; they are able to understand the problem, even with a lack of information.
Skillful leaders are able to determine if there is enough information to make a decision.
Good leaders are able to collect the available information, and determine if it is reasonable. They will then weigh in on the risk of making a decision against the lack of information regarding the problem.
A skilled leader will be able to understand the ramifications of the decision in long-term and short-term possibilities.
A good example of poor leadership skills are managers that "shoot from the hip," making decisions based on snap judgments and own personal feelings.