Today’s teams can be large, virtual and geographically spread out. The more dispersed the team, the more challenging it is to manage for results. Regardless of a team’s size or location, excellent communication and people skills are required. Without adept handling of the people side, any project is destined for failure. A leader’s career can be derailed when their team misses the mark.
Material Side of Meetings. Is critical to ensure decisions and responsibilities are documented and communicated. Agendas keep teams on focus and on time. Minutes clarify accountabilities and assure others the team is on track. Be sharp as a leader. Ensure agendas are distributed ahead of time, and minutes sent out within 48 hours of the meeting’s conclusion.
Human Side of Meetings. People management is crucial. If the team leader has poor people skills or an inability to effectively facilitate a meeting, participants will simply go through the motions in order to keep their job (aka busy-work). They will use a myriad of excuses, such as why the project can’t be completed, who is to blame and why the end results shouldn’t matter. A team like this will fail. A true leader enables the team to produce unprecedented results on time and within budget by utilizing brainstorming and taking turns, persuasive listening and acknowledgement.
Social Media. To help virtual team members learn about each other, use Facebook, LinkedIn or other resources. Encourage local teams to meet and get to know one another at company-sponsored functions. It will build a stronger sense of community. Ensure your Social Media and Code of Conduct policies have been clearly communicated to reduce inappropriate comments and activities, and ensure confidentiality of proprietary information at the same time.
Technology for Meeting Resources. People learn differently. When working with off-site team members, use on-line resources to help participants visually understand others’ ideas and keep them engaged. Keep graphs and charts simple. People also read and comprehend in different ways. So distribute any narrative materials days before the presentation and require attendees to read them ahead of time. Have someone other than the facilitator handle the logistics during the meeting, and keep everyone focused on the discussion.
Strategy and Focused Action Creation. Depending upon the size of the team, include team leaders (and if possible, team members) along with the executives to create goals and intentions. This will increase clarity and reduce future ambiguity when “group think” attempts to thwart results. Executives will be emulated! They not only need to know how to work well with others, they need to remember that their job status doesn’t make their insights more important or correct than anyone else’s. This provides an opportunity for everyone to learn from one another. Develop good decision-making skills while avoiding potential pitfalls.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2011