Off track?


Ever been to a meeting that went off track?  A question that took the group down a rabbit hole?

The solution is to say let's “add it to the parking lot” or “take it offline.”  But both of those expressions feel tired and sometimes awkward.

New idea:  Create a safe word or phrase.

My suggestion is to choose something that makes you smile, such as: “Swiper no Swiping.”
No swiping our time!

Let the team know that anyone can simply say “Swiper no swiping” to signal that the conversation is going off track.  

Check to see if the conversation aligns with the meeting agenda, then you can decide to follow the thread or get back on track.

What phrases or words did your team choose?
Want to "swipe" some more tips from Ward Certified? Check out our Program of the Month here.

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

We tend to get so focused on what our team or department is doing that we forget about the bigger picture. 

Often there is awesome work happening in another team that impacts or improves what you are working on, and we owe it some RESPECT.

Try this: Swap 10.

Ask another team for 10 minutes on their calendar. Show up and present a key initiative your team is struggling with, a challenge you face, or a goal you are close to meeting. 

Give them 10 minutes on your agenda to do the same.

Chances are, you will learn from each other and maybe help solve each other’s challenges.  At the very least, you will certainly increase respect for each other’s workload and process.

Bonus tip:  Ask someone on your team to do the presentation to build their skills and enhance their image. 

Want more Ward Certified? Check out our program of the month: Managing the Mix.

To meet or not to meet...

Copyright: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo

It's a good question.

Do you keep on hosting or attending a certain standing meeting that is no longer useful? It's 2018; time to rethink your options.

Start with clarifying the objective by asking, what is the purpose of the meeting?
If it's to share an update - consider updating via email, google doc, or  dropbox paper.  
If it's to brainstorm - share that goal so that everyone comes prepared to be creative. 
If it's to collaborate - send out some reading or data in advance so everyone can show up informed and ready to share.

Ask yourself what needs to happen in the meeting and then prepare accordingly before the meeting. 

New Rules

I’m often asked for techniques to engage team members who are quiet in meetings.

Try this:  At the beginning of the meeting, set expectations with this ground rule:

Silence = Agreement.

Silence doesn’t mean, I’m thinking about it, I’ll get back to you, or I’m multi-tasking; it means I’m in!

Then go around the room and get their agreement to the rule. 

If it’s a virtual meeting, either go around the virtual room and ask their thoughts by name or have a group text, IM, Google Hangout or WebEx to give team members a chance to write their question or comment.

Welcome to My World!

What if I told you there was a way to increase employee engagement, customer satisfaction, innovation, alignment and empowerment - for free?

Wait… what?  Yes, it’s true.   

Idea of the month:  Host a Departmental Open House

Invite colleagues from other departments to come visit your department.

Have team members be ready to describe “a day in the life” of your team. 

Share challenges, motivations, goals and metrics that your department is working hard to achieve.

Encourage questions and suggestions.

Listen to them, and act on them.

When I worked at Chateau Whistler, a Fairmont Hotel and Resort, we would set up the ballroom as an internal tradeshow.  Employees would travel the aisles with a “passport” and earn stamps after learning about each of the other departments.  It was fun and effective!

BTW - that's why, if you mention to a server in the Wildflower Restaurant that your ski boots are cold or wet, they’ll tell you about the handy ski-check services!  Win-Win-Win


Don't fear the tears

I’ve been running a lot of performance management training sessions lately and when I ask participants for their challenging situations they often respond:

 “What do you do when the employee cries?”

Here are some tips:

Let them.  Performance reviews or any conversation about a person’s career can evoke a strong emotion and tears might be part of that.

Give them a moment.  Chances are they are not thrilled to be crying so just be patient and pass the Kleenex box.  (Hint: Have a box of tissue in the meeting room just in case, plus it’s flu season, so always good to have them handy)

 If they can’t move on, tell them you will have the conversation later that day.  The sooner the better to ensure you talk.  You don’t want to give the impression that crying will get them out of feedback, coaching or performance reviews.

The goal

Here's an idea to try.

Send an email blast to your team and ask each person to write down their biggest priority for the day.  

Collect and read them.  

What do you think?  Is that what you thought the priority woud be?

If not, hold a quick huddle and reset the goal.  Be careful not to blame or make anyone feel bad, but rather to levate the goal or build consistency.

i.e. you might get some responses like, file, answer the phones, stuff envelopes, answer questions.

Have a standing huddle and say "Thank you for your ideas and for your hard work.  Let's make the goal today to make 10 people SUPER happy!"  Then spend 5 minutes brainstorming ideas on how to make thaat happen.

If you need a little inspiration - watch this video clip about Johnny the Bagger.