Monthly Archives: September 2012

Don’t Run the Meeting, Just Create the Agenda

25 Sep
by Bridget DiCello

Meetings can be painful, and it can be like pulling teeth to get people to come prepared, listen to what you have to say and actively and constructively participate.

You don’t want to feel like you must run all the meetings? Great! Set the agenda, and let it run the meeting. The key to that strategy is to have an effective agenda.

An effective agenda:

  1. Starts strong and specific. This may be the only section that you, as the leader, need to lead. Open the meeting, thank them for coming, share some positive news, deal with an elephant in the room, and in general, get anything out of the way that will impede the meeting. Reinforce that the meeting will follow the agenda.
  2. Has very specific objectives. These are the 1-3 things that need to be accomplished in the meeting.   This is not, “Review sales this month,” but it may be, “Create a specific plan, with roles for each person, to increase next month’s sales by 50% using historical information.”
  3. Includes clear agenda items. Instead of “Last Month’s Leads,” you might specify: “September Leads: Number, Origin, Closing Ratio, comparison to August 2012 and September 2011.” Although this seems very detailed and you may feel your team members “should” know and come prepared, don’t “should” all over them. It is easier to make the list when you make the agenda, than to deal with their unpreparedness during the meeting.
  4. Assigns specific responsibilities to team members and requires participation.
    Example agenda item: September Leads – Patty, Bob, Greg each report on their numbers in the areas specified.
  5. Runs the meeting. You may need to project it on a screen or write it on a white board, but have somewhere you can point to when everyone looks at you for direction. It is so much easier for someone to tell you as the meeting leader that they aren’t prepared and ask you for sympathy than if everyone is working off an agreed-upon and pre-communicated agenda present for everyone to see.
  6. Is sent out ahead of time. Communicate your expectations about the interaction you expect. “Attached is the agenda for our sales meeting. I’m looking forward to hearing each of your reports. Please pull your numbers ahead of time and be prepared to make conclusions and suggest approaches based on your data in order to achieve our goal of increasing sales by 50% next month.” If that is a new concept, be sure to check in with them prior to the first meeting, just in case they are shell-shocked that you expect preparation.
  7. Redirects vagueness and attempts to escape responsibility. If the participants are expected to report on five areas and only report on three, you can address that later with them directly. That is easier than addressing a situation where they failed to participate or were disruptive, which are much more general performance issues.

Offer your wisdom in response to each participant’s presentation. Spend your time sharing insights that you have as the leader, the collator of information and the one with the big picture, years of experience and understanding of the dynamics of the team. This is a much more powerful role than being the meeting’s logistical excuse-receiver. Let the effective agenda run the meeting. If you spend the time before the meeting preparing, the meeting will be more productive, everyone’s time will be better spent, progress will be made and you can change the culture of meetings, and expectation of productivity in your organization.

I Don’t Have a Bad Attitude!

18 Sep
by Bridget DiCello

“I don’t have a bad attitude, I just have a personality that you can’t handle!” When I saw this on the back of a woman’s shirt at the store the other day, I couldn’t help but verbally and enthusiastically acknowledge, “That is so true!” She looked at me strangely, probably thinking the shirt would keep her out of discussion, not start them.

What is a bad attitude?

  • Negative emotions displayed in a place or at a time where they are inappropriate?
  • A shield or wall to keep people away?
  • A mask for fear or lack of self-confidence?
  • A feeling that no one understands where I’m coming from, nor do they care to find out?
  • An honest but inappropriate lack of focus, prioritizing or caring about the situation at hand?

All of these could be accurate descriptions of what’s behind a bad attitude.

Your effectiveness at interacting with and leading others is dependent on your ability to find the person, the potential, the objections, the fears, the challenges and the disengagement behind the wall of “bad attitude”.

How many personalities are there that you can’t handle? That number is directly and inversely related to your success. There are personalities that I can’t handle – one of which is the personality that has absolutely no interest in self-development and improvement. The person believes so strongly that they are right, and although others may need to improve, they themselves do not.

However… I have not found many personalities like that. Most that appear that way are hiding something else, have built a very high wall, and no one has patiently worked hard enough to pull it down to find the willing person behind it.

It takes a lot of coaching conversations, accountability measures and supportive goal setting to work through bad attitudes. And there are times where the return on investment is not believed to be large enough to make it worth it.

Just be cautious. Next time you want to label someone with having a “bad attitude,” ask yourself as the leader if this is just a personality that YOU can’t handle.

Work gets Results!

03 Sep
by Bridget DiCello

Happy Labor Day!

Since I started cleaning horse stalls for $15 a week when I was 11 years old through my current entrepreneurial career, I have thoroughly enjoyed every job and been wearied by certain aspects of each job.  Some places I have been blessed to work with fabulous mentors, and others I have been challenged to communicate with much more difficult individuals.

Every opportunity, no matter its challenges, has been an opportunity for me to grow as a person.

Even when you crave your weekends or days off, look forward to your next vacation, or pine for retirement, there is incredible potential not to be missed in your everyday work.

Work pushes you to develop as a person.  That is a tough process and one you might choose to avoid, if it were a choice.  Work pushes you to accomplish more than you thought you could, solve problems you thought were impossible, push your physical limits, think in new ways, and work with people you think are impossible.  It forces you to be disciplined, to learn to empathize and connect with a variety of people, and to access talents you didn’t know you had.

And the result is that you discover your potential and those talents hidden within you in order to be more productive, more compassionate, more disciplined, more focused, and to make a contribution and bring out greatness in others.  Growing as a person means you move beyond what makes you happy to what enlightens you, and identify and build on your strengths and pinpoint and develop in your areas of weakness.  You develop your emotional intelligence and learn to cope with stress.  You enlarge your comfort zone, expand what you think is possible, and become a more courageous and humble person.

Whether you are working at your first job, or are ready to retire; or work in a comfortable office or sweat or freeze out in the elements, my hat is off to every working person.  Thank you for all you do to contribute to our great country, and to discover your own greatness!

What has been your favorite job?  Where did you work where you developed the most as a person?