Stop Having Status Meetings


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: Stop Having Status Meetings.

Status meetings are almost a form of anti-communication

They do not foster a healthy sharing of knowledge, ideas and risks. They choke the system with so much detail, that necessary insights can never appear. There are 3 key problems that status/review meetings cause:

1. You don’t gain necessary insights about risks and opportunities
2. You keep people from doing real work and waste a lot of time
3. You fail to discuss the things that would give you insights about risks and opportunities — because you spend all your time and energy reviewing project detail

Have a different and better meeting

In MOVE I outline 12 better things to do instead of talking about status.

Today I’ll share #5.

5. Question the habits

Habit is a very powerful force that makes organizations get stuck doing things the same way over and over again. Old habits become ingrained and some lose their usefulness.

And then everyone gets too over-busy doing stuff that does not matter anymore to think about how there might be a better way to do something, or to stop doing something. Use your staff time to question what you are doing and it’s continued worth.

Discuss:
• Why do we do this?
• Who uses this? And what do they use it for?
• Have we asked them if it is useful for what they use it for?
• Might something else be better?
• How much does this cost? and Why? What do we get. You’ll find things in your organization which can be stopped or done in much more efficient and effective ways, if you simply talk about it with your team.

To get the rest of this list of what to do instead of talking about status, pre-order your copy of MOVE now! It’s available Feb 28!

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team (at any level in the organization) to execute your strategy more decisively.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now or pre-order your copy now.
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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Good Measures and Bad Measures: The Monday MOVE Idea


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book.

This week: Good and Bad Measures

The right measures

Many managers struggle to know if they are measuring the right things. If you can get it right, you can achieve the holy grail of being confident about progress without getting overly involved in tracking detail.

Many times we select bad measures simply because they are the easiest thing to measure: “How many times did we do this? How much of this did we do? How fast did we do this? How many people saw this?”

We satisfy ourselves with the fact that we are measuring something. But in fact, we may be doing more harm than good because we are distracted from measuring the right things that drive action and forward progress in the business.

Activities vs. Outcomes

Good measures predict actual desired outcomes and enable you to move the business forward. Bad measures measure only activities or steps in the process, not outcomes.

Here’s a basic example of what I mean. Imagine you goal is to improve the capability of the customer service reps in your organization, so you put them all through training.

If you then have a success measure of “# of customer service reps who have gone through training”, that is a measure only of the activity or the process step — that they have gone through the training. It tells you literally nothing about the outcome — whether or not they have become better at their jobs.

In MOVE I talk about how to choose and measure the “Control Points” and outcomes instead of the activities or process steps. In this example, you would measure, “Did our service reps actually get better their jobs in a way that is meaningful to our customers?” Once you get the hang of it, you can create truly meaningful measures that will move your business forward.

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team to execute your strategy or implement your key initiatives more decisively — Including ideas to build sponsorship along with building your own confidence and courage.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now.
Click to download
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What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

Who else would like to see this?

If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.


About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

If you want more urgency, schedule it


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“I want to see more urgency”

I hear this from executives all the time.

“I want to see more urgency.”
Urgency is one of those troubling words that is often thrown about, but not grounded in something do-able.

I’ll ask them, What exactly would urgency look like? What would you see? Would you feel better if people were all running around in a panic?

But it’s actually very simple to create urgency. If you want more urgency, schedule it.

Defining the Middle

As I’ve been talking about my upcoming book MOVE, one of the biggest issues organizations face is “The Middle”.

Strategies have a lot of attention and investment up front. Long term goals are defined at the end. And then there is the vast expanse in the Middle which is often not discussed — and is where literally everything needs to get done.

What I find is that organizations too often launch into the Middle with the end goals in sight, but never specifically talk about needs to happen during the Middle.

What will you SEE?

Long-term initiatives (and urgency) suffer from what feels like an abundance of time in the beginning.

The way to combat this is to specifically define things in the middle that you will SEE. Here’s what I mean…

For example: Your goal is to sell higher in your enterprise accounts.

So, let’s say you have defined your end goal to be something concrete: 50 new executive level relationships and 5 big deals closed by the end of the first year.

Though that concreteness is good, be careful to realize that it tells you nothing about what you will SEE or DO during the Middle to achieve it.

So what happens is that everyone nods their heads and goes back to work. Nothing changes. It feels like you’ve got plenty of time. There is no urgency.

Charting the course through the Middle

So now the task is to start defining the Middle. Work backwards from the goal. Define what you will SEE.

For example for that outcome to be true in a year, what would need to be true 9 months out?

9 months out: 30 new big deals are under discussion, 10 of deals are officially in the pipeline.

Then you ask, for that to be true 9 months out, what would need to be true in 6 months?

6 months out: 50 target accounts are defined and 50 executives are named, and each one has a sales salesperson assigned and a quota for the next 18 months.

For that to be true 6 months out, what will need to be true 3 months out?

3 months out: 100 accounts are selected for vetting, and that 25 sales reps in North America have gone through a training, and have found and external mentor who can help them up level their sales skills.

If that were true 3 months out, that means …

1 month out: The first 25 sales reps have been identified. We have created a headhunting firm of sorts to help match them up with external mentors.

Achieving Urgency: Part 1

Without this process of setting points throughout the Middle, people leave the meeting nodding their heads and thinking, “Yeah, that’s important, but we have a year to get it done, so I don’t need to worry about it for a while.”

When you get a task that will take a year, on any Monday early in the process, you kind of still have a year. If you don’t start it for a month, you still have most of the year. But this thinking can repeat over and over again. Suddenly you are 10 months in and still have 12 months of work left to do!

But if instead, you define the timeline up front, and you leave the meeting with checkpoints already defined for 1,3,6, and 9 months out, people leave the meeting with specific actions that need to start as soon as next week!

People can’t simply just go back to work and feel like they have a year to make it come true. They have tasks to do starting immediately!

Achieving Urgency: Part 2

Once you have a timeline, where you can all agree the specific things that you will SEE throughout the Middle, and the resulting specific things that you will DO, then you can ask yourself, “Is this pace fast enough?”

If it is, great, if not, tighten up the actions you have placed on the on time line to occur at a faster pace. If you can get your team to buy in to the shorter timeline, and you stay focused on achieving each milestone, you will have created actual urgency — by scheduling it.

Putting Strategy into Action

This is the process I use over and over again with clients in my Strategy into Action program. We go from vaguely talking about urgency, to aligning on a timeline that regulates the right amount of urgency by being clear and actionable. If you are interested in learning more about using this process with your team, contact me. I’d love to help.

My upcoming book MOVE is about decisively executing strategy

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Download a Preview

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In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successfull management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.

It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it!

Pre-order!

Pre-order MOVE here
MOVE Wwill be available in Feb 2017, but you can pre-order now.

Get a copy for your whole team

Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

ABOUT PATTY:

patty blog image
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

Have this staff meeting soon…


team-alignment

Well, we’re all in this boat together… What do we think?

Awhile back I wrote an article called Stop Having Status Meetings. Status updates squander time that could be spent using your team as a team. At the bottom of that article I mentioned 11 things to do instead of reporting status.

I want to use this article to elaborate on these 11 things.

Getting your team together offers a precious opportunity to focus the team energy on great discussions that will drive the business forward.

Learn what people really think. Have debates.
As a leader you need these conversations to make you smarter and to inform which direction you should be taking the team and the business.

Here are 11 ideas of great things you can do with staff meeting time.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are just some ideas to get you thinking about higher value conversations you can have with your team.

1. What are the key outcomes we are on the hook for?

How will we know if we are achieving them?

It’s really worth putting this question of key outcomes out there, and aligning on both the list and what the measures are. You will be surprised how many different opinions will exist if you haven’t had this discussion already. Different opinions on what is important and how we measure it = low productivity.

2. What are the risks we face?

What should we do about them?

Everyone has a different risk profile. You will find that some people are afraid of everything and others are afraid of nothing. You’ll get critical insights on how you need to manage the individuals on your team, and you may even learn about an important risk that you didn’t see before.

3. What is the data we wish we knew about our business?

Is it knowable? How will we find it? If it is not knowable, what scenarios should we plan for?

I can tell you I made this mistake every which way for years… Wishing I had data that actually was knowable, or guessing at answers that were not knowable. Make the list with your team. Get the data you can get, and make explicit plans for what you will all agree to do when there is no data.

4. What stupid stuff are we doing?

I would have this as a staff topic at least twice a year. Grit always creeps into the gears, and old habits lose their usefulness. Question them.

This one never ceases to pay off. All the annoying, time wasting stuff creeps into the environment and teams just accept that as the new reality. Once or twice a year, talking about this gives people the permission to raise issues, and then as a team you can decide which ones to fix. Productivity always improves after this meeting.

5. What has changed?

…in our market, business, or customers’ markets and businesses? What does that mean for our plans?

Here again, you will find that some people care deeply and know a lot, and others are happy to just keep their head down plowing away at their former job descriptions. Find out. Discuss. Drive important change.

6. What improvements can we make?

What process or infrastructure improvement would have the biggest impact on our ability to deliver?

This one is also a winner to crowdsource. As the manager you are responsible for making improvements and increasing the capacity and capability of your team over time. But you don’t have to think of all the answers yourself. This question is actually important to ask everyone in the organization, not just your direct reports.

7. What has become harder and easier in our work and business?

What should we consider changing?

At the pace technology and communication changes, something is harder or easier in your business than it was. If competition or margins have become harder, shine the spotlight on it, and discuss it as a team. If other advances have made things easier, don’t miss it. Don’t keep doing things the same old, slow, hard way because you never paused to think and talk about it.

8. What should we all be learning?

What should we learn this year in addition to our core work? What do we want to be better at, or smarter about next year?

Elevate the discussion about what we should be all be doing (in addition to our day job) to improve. Make it clear that getting better at the job is only part of the job. Everyone should have goals to improve, and your team should be focused on “something we all need to learn or get better at” at any given point in time.

9. Who should we thank?

Who in our organization has done something remarkable that we should recognize?

I find that if you don’t have this discussion at your regular staff meeting, all kinds of great things happen in your organization and they go unseen and therefore un-thanked. Not recognizing exceptional efforts destroys trust. Talk about this so you don’t miss it!

10. Who are the stars?

Who are the stars in our organization that we should be investing in developing?

Always have a short list of high potential people who should be getting extra exposure, bigger challenges, and introductions to mentors. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to grow stars in your organization. It’ good for them, for you, and for the company, and ultimately for the world!

11. What is our team brand?

Who/what groups should our team be communicating, networking, or improving our brand with? How should we do it?

This is a topic that always brings a lot of energy when I work with clients on executive team building. What is your team brand? What do you want it to be? Who are the groups that your team serves? How do they perceive you? How do you need them to perceive you?

Getting alignment and an action plan on how your team is perceived is critical to building credibility and support throughout your company, and maybe also with clients or partners, for what your team does.

Good luck!

Call me if I can help you with this meeting.

What do you think?

What choices to you make that make your happier and more successful?
Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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Stop having status meetings. 5 better things to do instead.


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What’s a good staff meeting?

I have found myself talking about this with several clients over the past few weeks, so I decided to refresh this article.

This is such an important topic that any effective manager needs to get really right.

Questions I get: What should I be doing with my staff as a team? How should I organize my staff meetings? What are the right topics to discuss? What is the right agenda for a staff meeting?

One of the most important things to recognize is that if you take the time to collect your team together as a team, the last thing you should do is review status.

Stop having status meetings

Status meetings are an organizational habit that takes root when new managers have a staff meeting because they think they should, and then they are not sure what to talk about. So they ask each person to give an update about their work.

Then what ensues is basically a series of 1-1 meetings between the manger and each team member while everyone else is doing email.

There are some key problems that status/review meetings cause:

1. Data review, prevents you from learning what people really think
2. You fail to discuss the things that would give you real insights about risks and opportunities
3. You keep people from doing real work (discussing status isn’t work) so you waste a lot of time
4. You don’t build the capabilities of your team as a team

5 things to do instead of status meetings…

Here are some ideas for what to do instead.

1. Clarify your desired outcome

What is your team trying to do?
* Is it to deliver products on time? Serve customers better?
* Be more competitive? Create a strategic advantage?
* Create new products? Reach new markets?
* Improve quality, process, delivery?
* Improve the sales close rate? Sell higher?

2. Find the Control Points

Then ask yourself: What are the key outcomes, control points, and risk triggers which will let us know that we are on track or off track to get that outcome?

Talking about control points will give your whole team a better insight and a stronger ability to create meaningful progress on your desired outcome.

Is your control point customer referrals? manufacturing cost reduction? number of successful pilots? product release predictability? …

3. Create a useful tracking framework and process

Once you know what the key outcomes or control points are, then you can create a process and framework for each project team to report ahead of time on those key measures.

Each team will still create and use their detailed project plans to do and manage their work, but what gets reported upwards will be a new, report that contains insights about the key control points for each project and how you are performing on those.

Note: Moving the same amount of detail upward that you use to do your work is not leadership. It requires little to no effort on your part and it wastes too much overall organizational time because you require everyone else to analyze and form opinions about the detail that you should have done.

Then when you have the staff meeting or review meeting, reading of the new reports about the control points is pre-work. It gives you a chance to flag the issues, risks and opportunities.

These insights become the things you talk about in the meeting.

4. Have a different and better meeting

This list is by no means exhaustive.

But here are some good ideas to get you thinking about higher value things you can do with your team, than to merely review status.

1. What are the key outcomes we are on the hook for? How will know if we are achieving them?
2. What are the risks we face? What should we do about them?
3. What is the data we wish we knew about our business? Is it knowable? How will we find it? If it is not knowable, what scenarios should we plan for?
4. What stupid stuff are we doing? I would have this as a staff topic at least twice a year. Grit always creeps into the gears, and old habits lose their usefulness. Question them.
5. What has changed in our market, business, or customers’ markets and businesses? What does that mean for our plans?
6. What process or infrastructure improvement would have the biggest impact on our ability to deliver?
7. What has become harder and easier in our work and business? What should we consider changing?
8. What should we all be learning about this year in addition to our core work? What do we want to be better at, or smarter about next year?
9. Who in our organization has done something remarkable that we should recognize?
10. Who are the stars in our organization that we should be investing in developing?
11. Who/what groups should our team be communicating, networking, or improving our brand with? How should we do it?

5. Use your team as a team

1. When you begin the meeting, socialize, laugh, talk. People are more productive when you treat them like people. I would spend the first 10 minutes of every staff meeting socializing, and having people tell jokes and stories. It was not wasted time. This socializing makes the rest of the meeting very much more productive.

2. Ask people ahead of time to recommend topics that they feel are important for the whole team to discuss.

3. Have someone on your team plan the agendas ahead of time. Or rotate this responsibility among team members. Some people are great at this, and will naturally gravitate to it.

Value team time

Time with your team is really valuable. Just think about the hourly cost of having all those people in the meeting. Find ways to make it more valuable.

Want some help?

If you are planning a team offsite or strategy session and you want some help getting your team aligned and operating better, clarifying your strategy, defining control points and measures, or putting your strategy into action, contact me. I do this type of work with executive teams regularly, and I’d be happy to talk with you about how to best achieve your business and team goals.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page.

Was this useful?

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ABOUT PATTY:

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

Rise_CVR_3D_300

Free eBook Download