Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Kick the week off right

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 12, 2010

shoot for this:

not this:

The dreaded ‘M’ word

“Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings”

Ashleigh Brilliant

Sadly, this is often true.  However, I propose that meetings themselves are not the culprit as much as the  lack of  purpose, leadership and effective communication IN the meetings.

Someone does it right

Here at The Lampo Group (more popularly known as Dave Ramsey’s company), we start every week with staff meeting on Monday morning.  In many organizations, staff meetings rank in popularity somewhere between root canals and waiting in line at the DMV.

Our staff meetings are actually pretty fun as far as meetings go, not to mention extremely valuable.

Dave’s philosophy on staff meeting is all about over communication.  He’ll often remind us, ‘We do these weekly meetings so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing’.  Around here, it’s kind of like the last minute pep talk in the locker room before everyone runs out on the field.

How’s it work?

Dave typically leads the meeting, and asks each department leader to stand and update the group on  key things going on.  Team leaders will share or call on someone on their team to share:

  • Victories, wins, high points, brags on team members
  • New team member introductions
  • Prayer requests, updates on things we’ve been praying for
  • Information to be aware of that might benefit the group i.e. upcoming media appearances
  • Drawings for hockey tickets, other  fun giveaways, awards and recognitions

Where to start?

Our EntreLeadership clients will often ask me how they should start implementing a staff meeting in their business.  Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Do it Monday morning: If your set up allows for a staff meeting at the beginning of the week, this is the best time to schedule it.  It sets the tone, and gets everyone’s mind engaged right out of the gate.  Make it mandatory for everyone to come.
  2. Keep it brief: We rarely go more than an hour.  If everything has been covered after just 20 minutes, we finish up and go to work.
  3. Make it fun: This is a great time to recognize your team and their accomplishments from the week before.  Catch people doing things right, then praise them in front of the team. This is a great way to define what winning looks like without having to ‘lecture’.
  4. Be personal: As a leader, you have a tremendous opportunity to share how you’re processing things that are going on in the company.  Maybe a certain area is struggling, and you read an encouraging quote or article that helped you see it in a new light.  Share this with the team – they appreciate seeing you humanity.  Just be sure that it’s not presented in a way that’s pessimistic.
  5. When in doubt, share. Don’t assume everyone on the team observes things that seem apparent to you.  You may feel like some of the concepts you’re sharing are elementary, but your team will appreciate being included.  Teach them to think like leaders.  Help them understand how the organization works.  Over time you will notice them taking on a greater sense of ownership in their work.

What works for you?

I’d love to hear some techniques and ideas for better staff meetings.  What’s working for you?  Please leave a comment with your favorite meeting tip.

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Hate Meetings? 5 easy tips to make them worth attending

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on November 25, 2009

Meetings are typically viewed as a necessary evil.  Most people absolutely hate meetings.  So be a change agent, do something about it…be the hero that brings life and energy into your organizations meeting culture.

I highly recommend Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting.  It’s full of great ideas on how to approach meetings and how to break them down into either strategic or tactical agendas.  Lencioni will show you how to get buy in from all the players in the meeting and how to ensure that the meeting results in productive activity every time.

Here are 5 ideas on meetings. Add them to your business tool belt along with all the great content put forth in Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting.

When in doubt, invite

It’s a sinking feeling to hear about a meeting that you were not invited to if the subject matter in that meeting was even remotely connected to your roll in the organization.

  • Get ALL the players in the room.
  • If their relevance to the meeting is questionable, then give them the option to attend or the option to leave early if they feel like it’s wasting their time.  People will appreciate being included.

Plan for follow up meetings

  • If the meeting is strategic (vs. tactical), make it clear to the players in the meeting that the goal is to cover information which is relevant to everyone in the room.
  • Avoid fostering a meeting environment where ten people become bored listening to two people go back and forth about an action item that involves only those two people.  This happens often, and it’s one of the top reasons that people hate meetings.
  • Action items involving a few people simply need to be discussed in a follow up meeting to keep creative energy flowing in the group.

Somebody please lead!

The worst meetings I’ve been in have occurred when the attendees of the meeting did not have a clear understanding of who was leading the meeting.

  • The meeting leader’s job is to to ensure that all of the players give input (not to talk the whole time).
  • If you are the meeting organizer then by default you are the leader of the meeting, but if someone else is going to lead then the organizer needs to open the meeting with their endorsement of the meeting leader and then let them take over.  Set the meeting leader up to win.
  • If you are the meeting leader consider having someone else introduce you/your ideas or endorse you to add credibility.

Meet before the meeting

  • If you know there is going to be some tension or controversy in the meeting then identify your allies ahead of time and meet with them to let them know how they can best support you in the upcoming meeting.
  • Meet with the players who will be in opposition to your agenda and ask them what their concerns are.  Let them know you’re going to consider their concerns between now and the upcoming meeting, and that you hope the meeting will offer a solution that they are content with.
  • You will be amazed at how doing these prep meetings will increase the buy in and the chemistry in the room when everyone meets together.  Our tendency is to just show up and start shooting from the hip.  Don’t do this.  You will be frustrated with people when the meeting is over.

How long?

  • The meeting will always expand to occupy the time allotted.
  • Think about how much time is really needed to have an effective meeting and remember that follow up meetings are encouraged.
  • You can always schedule another meeting but once the time is set it’s extremely rare that a meeting will take less time than scheduled.
  • Consider using odd time segments like 12 minutes or 40 minutes instead of the standard 30 minute or 1 hour blocks.

When in doubt bring lots of candy to the meeting.

For more ideas on how to have better meetings, read my previous post about meetings or check out Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership events to get the tools for building a team, increasing communication and hosting more productive meetings.
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People are assets, not obstacles.

Posted in Business, Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on August 11, 2009

I walked out of a meeting yesterday frustrated.

I had this thought:

“Things take so much longer to execute now and move so much slower than they used to.”

(this is a lie but the thought occurred nonetheless)

The project seemed simple: Send out an email and let people know about a promotion that we are going to run.  5 years ago the execution time from when the project idea was born to implementation would have been about 2 hours.  Yesterday in this meeting I came to the realization that no matter how much I tried push for a rapid launch this same project will take about 2 weeks.  It takes longer because of what my immature paradigm would deem ‘all the stupid processes we have to go through now to get something done’.

The reality is that this project could not have even been pulled off 5 years ago.  At best I would have written an email with a few links in Outlook, blind copied the recipients, fired it out and hoped for the best.

This project today will be a beautifully crafted piece of marketing genius including HiDef video, graphics, a dedicated web page, content edited by professional writers, email tracking, administrative follow up, celebrity endorsement and a marketing plan overseen by an accomplished  MBA/project coordinator.

All of the sudden it hit me that what we lose in ‘speed’ we more than gain in quality which ultimately is a gain in speed.  Yes it takes longer but we’re running faster and we’re reaching more people with a higher level of excellence than ever before.

Growing with a company is challenging.  I’m learning to appreciate what new team members bring to the table instead of complaining about how their new position complicates our process.  I’m learning that together is better.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”  – Ryunosuke Satoro

Meetings: Execution is not a Death Sentence

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on July 27, 2009

Despite how much I try to avoid this scenario I will occasionally have a day where I’m literally in meetings the entire day.  This is not healthy and it’s extremely inefficient.  Going from one meeting to straight into another one is dangerous.  Without scheduling time specifically to execute on a meetings action points immediately after the meeting takes place we can loose as much as half of the potential value of that meeting.

Here are 4 simple ideas to retain maximum value from meetings.

1) Be early to every meeting.  Most people are not early. So if you show up 3-5 minutes early you will command an unspoken respect that says I value your time and I value mine so let’s make this count.  Eventually people will feel guilty if they’re constantly showing up late and you’re already there and they’ll change their habit.  They will not feel guilty however if you’re occasionally late too.

2) Don’t leave a meeting without clear action points and an understanding on who is executing on them. If you’re not sure what they are then just ask. You may find out that other people are wondering about this too but feel weird about asking.  I’m amazed at the number of meetings that take place where everyone walks out feeling like something important just happened but no one has a clear plan of action.  The value of the meeting is rarely in the meeting.  The value comes from what takes place as a result of the meeting.

3) Volunteer to do the members of the meeting a favor and email out a follow up including the agreed upon action points and who is responsible for each one.  This way no one forgets or gets confused on who is doing what.  The other attendees of the meeting will get distracted on their way back to their desk or heaven forbid step immediately into another meeting.   Simply emailing out a follow up summary of the meeting will cordially obligate them to execute on their part.

4) Never schedule back to back meetings. The only way to accomplish these first 3 things is to have the time between meetings to do this.  If you wait until the end of the day or even until after the next meeting it is too late.  50% of the value, creativity, energy etc. is lost within 10 minutes of the meeting being over.  If the norm is a 30 minute meeting make it 20, if it’s an hour make it 45 minutes and use the newly found time time for execution.  If you have an assistant that helps you schedule meetings then train them to adopt this same mentality.  A meeting will expand or contract to the time allotted no matter how much time is scheduled. If someone else requests the meeting for an hour and you reply letting them know you only have 45 minutes they will realize how much you value your time, and they are likely to value those 45 minutes more than if you just casually accepted the initial request for an hour.

Summary:

1)      Be Early

2)      Don’t leave without clear action points

3)      Email out a summary to the members of the meeting including action points

4)      Avoid back to back meetings and schedule time for execution

Side note: This may seem trite but always make sure a meeting is actually in order.  People tend to call meetings as a default solution to ‘I don’t know what else to do to get everyone on the same page’.  Many times effective communication is possible without calling everyone together, and if you put the energy into connecting with the right people individually you will gain the respect of those who might otherwise have felt like your meeting was wasting their time.