Monthly Archives: March 2011

What Not To Do

24 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

Are there things that you would like your employees to stop doing?  Do you tell them to stop doing those things?  Do they hear you?  Do they change their behavior?

It is critically important to pinpoint specific behaviors that you wish would stop.  “You better change your bad attitude!” is a personal attack and not specific enough.  Instead, “When you are in the staff meeting, I see you roll your eyes, exude an audible sigh and cross your arms at an idea you do not like.  This is not an acceptable response from any member of the team.”  The employee must be confronted about behaviors you see an unacceptable.

However, it cannot stop there.  As critical as it is to pinpoint what the unacceptable behavior specifically looks like, you must do more than that!

You must tell them what you wish for them to do instead.

Can’t they figure that out on their own?

·         Maybe, but if they knew what to do or how to act more professionally, they might be doing it already.  “Really, boss, when Sam brings up such an outrageous idea, I just react that way naturally.  What do you expect me to do when he is saying dumb stuff?”

They know what to do. They are just being difficult and not doing it.

·         If this is the case, then when you given them specific behaviors you wish to see instead, you can hold them accountable to these firm expected behaviors.  Otherwise, instead of them not doing annoying behavior #1 (eye rolls, sigh, crossed arms), which you asked them to stop, they do annoying behavior #2 (laugh and start texting).

I don’t have the time to explain every little thing they need to do!

·         Then teach them to think.  Ask them a question or two, get them thinking and next time, you can expect them to think a bit more about what they are doing.  “How do you think it affects the rest of the team when you roll your eyes, sigh and cross your arms?”  “What could you do to control your reaction and your outward appearance?”

There are times when a small situation may simply require that you communicate to the employee that a specific behavior was unacceptable and they should not do it again.  But chances are that there are more chronic behaviors employees exhibit that you do not like, and those will never be corrected without a conversation about what they are to do instead.

“If you think an idea is not credible, take a second to think before you respond, stop and take note of what you are doing with your eyes, voice and arms.  Keep your arms open and on the table, your voice silent and your eyes on your notepad.  It may also help to jot down in your notes why you think the idea is crazy and address those situations with me (your supervisor) later or with the individual themselves.”

What do your employees do that you wish they would stop?  Do they know what to do instead?  Have you held them accountable to specific alternative behaviors?

AGHHHH! Meetings!

09 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.”                                           – Gourd’s Axiom

Ever been to an unproductive meeting? Ever been to a meeting that went too long? Does the word “Meeting” make your skin crawl?

Here’s how to make your meetings more productive:

  1. Create an agenda. Communicate clearly what you hope to accomplish and what will happen at the meeting – make sure you know this before you call the meeting.  If you don’t have clarity, you probably don’t need to meet at this point.  Many meetings are called to address huge problems, but you have to climb that mountain one step at a time.  If your agenda will take six hours, decide on the first step or milestone and cover that in the first meeting.
  2. Consider who to invite. There may be reasons why you need to include certain people due to office politics, but the less the better.  People with a reason and a role make the best participants.
  3. Circulate the agenda. Indicate who is expected to participate and where. Expect preparation on the part of the attendees. Instead of having an agenda item like “Sales Performance”, consider having each person prepare to present their relevant numbers, new initiatives, progress, one challenge, etc. Have them come prepared to report – indicate their participation requirements on the agenda.  If you don’t have the authority to require their participation, have someone with the authority to ‘reply all’ voicing their agreement with the expectation that everyone come prepared.
  4. Start on time. End on time. Prohibit interruptions. Tell them you will start and end on time and stay true to your word.  Communicate that everyone will be expected to stay during the meeting – leaving even for a 3 minute phone call may require you cover material again when they return.  People will appreciate this stringency because their time will be well spent.
  5. Stay on agenda. Set time limits for each item if you need to.
  6. Get the results you said you would. If your plan was to come up with new strategies to address slumping sales, then make sure before everyone leaves strategies have been generated, responsibilities and deadlines have been assigned, accountability measures have been put into action and follow up timeframes have been clearly identified.  Have someone record and email these items.
  7. Address the elephants in the room. If someone is taking the meeting off track, obviously negative or thwarting progress with their participation, address it – everyone will appreciate you for it.  “Mark, I’m hearing that you have some serious concerns about our ability to increase sales.  We are addressing today how we will do that, not if we will.  It’s important we get all our ideas out on the table before we decide that they will not work.  Their viability could be covered in a future meeting.  I’d be happy to get with you after this meeting to address your concerns before that future conversation.  Does that work for you?”

Meetings do not run themselves and getting a group of great people in a room never guarantees that anything will get done, especially what you want to get done. Take charge-only call a meeting if you need one and can adhere to the above guidelines.