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Teamwork, or team performance?

Does your team ‘work’?

Often people get together in meeting or teams and work, rather than generating true performance. Sometimes meetings are called or teams ‘huddle’ for no other reason than it is in their schedules to do so. At other times, the wrong people are in the room, doing the wrong things and making any positive outcome simply hard work.  I have seen both the best and the worst of team performance and behaviours through both my time leading and participating in global teams, and also through my experience coaching and consulting into organisations.

What can we do to shift ‘work’ to ‘performance’?

Having experienced both the good and bad of teams and meetings, here is a few tips that can elevate team work to team performance:

  • Make the meeting meaningful. Ensure every participant is aware of how the meeting serves the organisation purpose and advances the mission.
  • Make it important. Too often people are wanting just to get though the meeting to get back to more important tasks. Make the topic and outcome of the meeting important to the participants, or don’t have it at all.
  • Make the session functional. Make clear the roles of everyone in the room, and ensure that ineffective behaviours (big talking, withdrawal, bullying, etc) are all called out and managed.
  • Ensure that your meeting has a process and rules. This includes a critical decision – how do you decide? Majority, consensus, the leader’s call? Each of these provides a different dynamic and approach to a successful meeting.
  • Make sure people have the skills to contribute, to debate and to disagree ‘well’. These are powerful and often overlooked skills in collaboration. It is not about ‘winners and losers’ but about quality outcomes.
  • The meeting is the focus – it is not a place to clear your emails, play solitaire or engage in politics. No devices on for the meeting other than for accessibility or note taking is a great rule to implement – if an attendee cannot or will not give the meeting their attention, should they even be there?

Meeting rules matter:

After learning the hard way, I also put into place some operational rules for meetings to enhance their performance:

  • If the topic cannot be asked as a question for resolution, it does not get on the agenda. ‘For Information’ is code for time wasting.
  • No more than 3 questions could be framed per agenda item – otherwise it became too big an unwieldy for the group to attend to.
  • If we already know the answer (or not empowered to answer it)  – don’t ask the question.
  • The team leader is never the facilitator.
  • No more than 7 slides for a presentation to the group on any topic or agenda item. Anything else should be in the pre-read pack. Death by PowerPoint is the quickest way to make a meeting ‘hard work’.
  • Clarity in how the decision will be made is critical, and the consequences of that choice (once decided, no undermining back in your departments, for example)
  • Each member of the team understands their role and accepts responsibility for their own and the group behaviours.
  • No more than 20 minutes of presentation, plus 40 minutes discussion and decision making on any specific item. If it must take longer, then it is not ready to be tackled by the group, not formulated well enough, or constructed in a way to drive performance in discussions and decision making.

At one point I was getting invitations to 14 hours worth of meetings per day. I would have to prioritise. I would always prioritise meetings that met these performance criteria and simply ask for the minutes to be sent of everything else.

How does your team perform?

  • What is your biggest challenge with meetings?
  • Do you seek performance or just allow ‘hard work’?
  • What is your best tip for making meetings effective?

If you want to fond out more or have me work with your team to enhance its performance, just reach out and have a chat. You might be surprised how your teams can perform when it becomes a conscious part of their collaborative approach.

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