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Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Meetings Say it All

Do you have teamwork?

After 12 years of studying teams and teamwork, I'm more inclined to guess that you don't have teamwork. I'll be happy to be wrong, but the chances of me being right is higher than the other way around. How do you know if you have it or not? as the title of this article implies, your meetings say it all.

See if these sound familiar:

  1. People see your meetings as mostly a waste of time. Many think that they could be more productive doing their daily chores than attending meetings.

  2. Management or staff meetings are mostly a series of discussions between the meeting leader and one of the meeting participants at a time.

  3. Team meetings hardly pass as team meetings because participants barely listen to what other participants report. This is because they are busy preparing for their turn to present to the boss.

  4. While one participant is reporting to the boss, some meeting participants are working on other stuffs. This is thought to be clever and practical. Multi-tasking at the expense of meeting quality.

  5. Concerns about the ramifications of new strategies are not brought out, on the other hand people cover them up by pretending to agree with the boss. Complaints are usually raised after the meeting and only among participants and seldom to the boss.

  6. When some meeting participants do not agree with what was "agreed upon" during the meeting, they go to their respective subordinates disowning the team's decision. Though there is some semblance of implementation, the support is not there. They say, they do not agree with the decision but they are duty-bound to implement it. because of this, people fail to understand the rationale of decisions and despise the decision makers but not their superior who bailed out on the team at a crucial moment.

  7. When meeting participants fail to honor their commitments, other members avoid to call that team member's attention on his failure to deliver. As a result team members start to have ill feelings towards the slacking team member but won't take steps to fix the situation until the only option they can think of is to find a way to kick the member out. In some instances, high performing team members leave the team because they don't know how to deal with the slackers in the team.

  8. Meetings sometimes end up as a session of excuses because of the team's failure to deliver. Team members are often heard saying "that problem has been existing for a long time."

  9. When there are attempts to exchange ideas on how to better solve problems, someone is quick to suggest to discuss the issue "offline" but the issue is never discussed offline and never solved.

  10. Team members are not clear about what they are supposed to commit to after the meeting which leads to failure of the meeting to make an impact on the organization, which is also the reason why people do not like meetings in the first place.

These are just some of the indicators of lack of teamwork. Patrick Lencioni in his book "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" cited absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results as the main culprit to the lack of teamwork. In order to get these dysfunctions out of the team, there should be a deliberate effort to improve trust by establishing norms for improving trust, setting up a conflict management system, coming up with an agreement on establishing clarity and commitment to action, agreeing on the accountability of people to call each other's attention and focusing on key results and last but not the list, having a dogged determination to put commitments to action.

It's not easy but it's doable and the reward for doing is not limited to the following:

  • Early detection of problems

  • Maximizing the brain power of the team

  • Team cohesiveness

  • high level of commitment

  • achievement of goals

As usual, if you need help pursuing teamwork for your team, you know how to contact me.

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