Saturday, 26 June 2021

Steer Your Meetings to Success

If you start your on line meetings by simply asking a question such as..”You’ve all seen the plan. Any comments?”, your team members will probably look away from their cameras down at their desks (or kitchen tables.).  The energy drains from the meeting before it has really started.  

Team members do not know what is being asked of them. Are they supposed to comment from the perspective of their own role or department?

You need to give them a firmer prompt - a more directed question. Something more like “Can each of you tell me how ready your department is to deliver your part of the plan?”

Even successful individuals and teams are more successful when they receive a clear invitation to contribute snd a clear steer as to what that contribution should look like.

The ideal prompt meets three criteria: it gets people oriented or reoriented to the task and relevant context; it helps them add something new to their thinking; and, if possible, it sparks some passion and pride in the outcome.

Use successful prompts to shorten meetings but make them more successful.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Accept poor performance at your peril

Measuring performance is essential for a number of reasons.  

Firstly, as the adage goes … if you can measure it, you can manage it.How do you predict job times if you don’t know the performance level at which your equipment and your people will work.

Secondly, if you don’t know performance levels, ho do you recognise and reward good performance? How do you recognise and eliminate poor performance?

The latter is vital.  If you accept poor performance and appear to condone it, you are establishing a culture in which your workforce thinks you don’t care if they don’t work at their best.

Once that happens, you can be in a vicious spiral of poor and poorer performance.  

Good luck with reversing that!

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Meeting, B***** Meetings

If you are always moaning about the number of meetings you have to attend, then almost certainly you do have too many meetings.  The pandemic - and the forced switch to Zoom and Teams and the like for meetings - has opened up meetings to all.

Just because all can attend, it doesn’t mean that all should attend.As many as possible should avoid the meeting and be doing some productive work. They can be informed  about the meeting later … well, the key decisions and actions anyway. 

So next time you hold or organise a meeting, take as much time over the attendance list as you do over the agenda.  Why are people being invited? What will they add? What contribution can they make? Do they need to be consulted … or just informed about outcomes?

Can we stop their suffering and leave them off the invitation list? 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

On The Right Track

The UK’s rail franchise system (where private companies bid for the right to tun rail services on the national infrastructure)  was introduced to improve competition and efficiency.  

However, the bids - and the assessment of them - were highly over-optimistic. They looked to offer value-for-money for the government/taxpayer and a good return for the franchisee …. but in reality, these benefits rarely accrued.

The reality was poor quality service and low profits.

This phenomenon is all too common in government contracting -where someone has a good idea but no-one has the information or expertise to establish an effective measurement and monitoring regime.

However the real problem lies in setting goals.  The aims of an effective rail transport system should perhaps more sensibly be set as safety, reliability and punctuality - whether that translates into profits might then depend on the subsidies government is prepared to provide. 

Government should learn more about setting SMART  (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals - and thinking through the unintended consequences of policy decisions.

(Incidentally, you might notice that my expansion of SMART differs from the most common set of words used. That suggests A stands for Attainable, but I much prefer Assignable. You must know who is responsible for achieving the goals - who has been assigned responsibility.  I think if goals are Specific, Messurable, Assignable, Relevant and Time-bound they are Attainable.)