Posted March 02, 2011

Effective Meetings: Two Powerful Communication Tips to Try Right Now

By Quint Studer

What separates high performing individuals and groups from lower performing ones? Often there’s a simple answer: communication.

Because leaders are human, it’s unlikely we’ll ever communicate with 100 percent clarity and efficiency. The great news is there are things we can do that will lead to vast improvements in this vital area.

Here are two techniques we suggest leaders try. Both of them involve adjustments to the meetings you’re already holding:

  1. Synchronize meetings between senior leaders and direct reports. During your next senior leader team meeting, ask each leader when he or she meets with direct reports. It will become obvious why there is inconsistency in performance. Let’s say the senior leader team meets weekly on Tuesday afternoons. It is not unusual to learn that some leaders meet with their direct reports on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Some may wait until Monday. Chances are very few hold their meetings late in the day on Tuesday (right after the senior team meeting).

    There is also inconsistency in how often senior leaders meet with direct reports. Some meet each week; others at least once every two weeks.

    So, what we have is a situation in which important items are being shared at different times (and at different frequencies) with key stakeholders. The result is that some staff members are taking action immediately. Others aren’t. And the staff members who haven’t yet had their meetings hear things through the grapevine from the others—which leads to confusion and misinformation being passed around.

    A good solution is to ask everyone on the senior leader team to hold their direct report meetings on the same day and (if possible) at the same time. This simple change will greatly reduce the time leaders spend reacting to people wondering if what they are hearing is correct. It will also ensure that everyone is taking the same actions consistently.

    Finally, holding all leader department meetings at the same time will make it much easier to pull the entire group together, if needed.

  2. During meetings, clarify exactly what will be communicated afterward. I find that in both senior leader meetings and department team leader meetings, very seldom is time allotted to discuss what needs to be communicated, when, how, and by whom. Taking time to do this will result in all leaders, and thus the organization, being on the same page.

    Experience has shown me that in most organizations it’s not the decisions that are the problem, it’s the communication around them. We spend all of our time and energy reaching decisions, then miss the opportunity to assure the best way to communicate those decisions. It’s this last 10 percent that makes the previous 90 percent pay off.

I urge you to try these two simple techniques. I think you’ll find they go a long way toward ensuring the optimal execution of the decisions you make.


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