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How to Run Weekly Tactical Meetings - Pt2

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Episode Description

In Part 2, Margot and Jim cover steps 4-6 of the weekly tactical meeting. Imagine having a fruitful meeting as a leadership team every week that NEVER goes more than 90 minutes. That’s really the whole point of this, and it’s structured to make sure that’s exactly what happens!

What you’ll learn:

  • Review the first 3 stages of tactical meetings [00:01:14]
  • Introduction to Stage 4: Discussion [00:02:42]
  • What to do with big topics that arise [00:02:56]
  • What to do with decisions that are made [00:03:45]
  • What to do if/when team dynamics issues arise [00:05:11]
  • The closing stages: how to end the meeting well! [00:11:00]


Jim [00:00:04] Welcome to The OrgHealth Podcast: conversations about organizational health. I'm Jim Brown.

Margot [00:00:10] And I'm Margot Thompson. We're consultants and coaches to leaders who are creating healthy organizations.

Jim [00:00:15] We talk about leading at the executive level; not just the key points, the highlights. [00:00:21]We like to go deeper. [0.5s]

Margot [00:00:22] [00:00:22]Under the surface. [0.5s] We like to talk about what isn't obvious.

Jim [00:00:25] And maybe what isn't comfortable.

Margot [00:00:28] Right. And we [00:00:29]come at [0.0s] these things with very different viewpoints. Easy because Jim and I are very, very different from each other.

Jim [00:00:35] That's true. But the good news is we've worked together long enough that we see our differences as strengths.

Margot [00:00:41] In fact, they actually allow us to create more health in our team and the teams that we help. And we're going to do some of that right now.

Jim [00:00:58] Well, we're a few weeks into the topic of meetings. We started with Strategic Meetings, Daily Stand-up Meetings. Last week we opened up the topic of Weekly Tactical Meetings and we want to dig more into that today.

Margot [00:01:14] So in the first fifteen minutes of your Tactical Meeting, the team is going to have the Lightning Round that catches people up on the big things that they're working on that day and any issues or roadblocks that they're facing that the team could potentially help them with.

Jim [00:01:28] Right. Right. And then they fill out the Scorecard. They're using red, yellow, green to kind of indicate, is this something a concern we have to talk about? Or is it full steam ahead - no issues? Then they use those to count how, indicate how they're doing on the Defining Objectives and the Standard Operating Objectives.

Margot [00:01:48] So at this point, the meeting leader has set the agenda by ordering the discussion topics from the most important topic to the least important topic coming out of the [00:01:56]Scoreboard [0.0s] designations of red, yellow and green.

Jim [00:02:00] Right. So that's the first 15 minutes. It's the first three of six stages of a Weekly Tactical Meeting.

Margot [00:02:07] So Stage 3 continues as the team discusses the agenda topics in the order of priority. So we suggest that teams set aside about 90 minutes for these weekly meetings. Now, sometimes the agenda topics won't require the whole 90 minutes. That's great. That's a gift for everybody. Call the meeting done as soon as you're through the agenda.

Jim [00:02:27] Right. Don't let the weekly tactical meeting go over the 90-minute timeline. If you're out of time, you're out of time. You're going to meet again next week. If you get done sooner, [00:02:38]yay, [0.0s] that would be a boost for everybody's day.

Margot [00:02:42] Okay. Let's take some time to talk about the discussion phase. That is where the most pitfalls happen.

Jim [00:02:48] Right. That's where the meat of the meeting happens. That's where the good decisions happen. But it's also where the problems can happen.

Margot [00:02:56] Right. And sometimes topics come up that are bigger issues, strategic topics. So you're talking about concerns that have come up because maybe several people have given notice that they're leaving in a couple of weeks.

Jim [00:03:09] Ouch.

Margot [00:03:09] That's like a really big problem. But that is not a 10-minute chat.

Jim [00:03:13] Right.

Margot [00:03:13] Okay. It should be identified as a Strategic Meeting topic.

Jim [00:03:16] Yeah. And we talked about those a couple of weeks ago. The aim is to quickly identify action that's gonna come out of the issues that we're addressing in our Tactical Meeting.

Margot [00:03:28] Yes. So in our example of the wave of employees leaving, the action is to convene a Strategic Meeting.

Jim [00:03:35] Right.

Margot [00:03:36] So it either happens on a regularly scheduled time slot for this type of meeting or if it's actually urgent to get it figured out before that particular time slot, then you [00:03:43]set [0.0s] a time sooner.

Jim [00:03:45] Right. And then maybe on a different topic, the action could be that somebody volunteers to reassign a few of their people to a different area because a Defining Objective is stalled. More people power is needed there.

Margot [00:03:58] Exactly. Or somebody [00:04:00]responds [0.0s] to a team member sharing that they're stuck because they don't know how to handle somebody that's working on the floor who keeps promising to do something better but not actually delivering. So the team [00:04:11]member simply offers [0.7s] to meet right after the meeting and share what's worked for her.

Jim [00:04:15] Right. That's the action. And you're done. Move on from there.

Margot [00:04:19] Perfect. The team is making sure that the strengths of the whole leadership team are available to address any problem with moving Defining and Standard Operating Objectives ahead.

Jim [00:04:27] Right. So as the discussion is going along, when strategic topics emerge, they're just being recorded in the segment four. That's kind of the Stage 4 piece. And other times there are some decisions that are being made and that's what we would call the Stage 5, the Actions and Decisions. So, let's just reinforce the point, though, that the discussion is about determining an answer or decision. It's practical. Teams often have members who tend to be more philosophical. And that's great. But this is not the time to wax on about things. If it's going to turn into a strategic topic, that gets moved to another meeting.

Margot [00:05:11] So that brings up the point, often in these kinds of meetings, it does happen that something comes along that's maybe a team dynamic issue or a misunderstanding and that sort of throws a spur in the works and sort of knocks things a little off-kilter.

Jim [00:05:26] That's true. As we observe our clients work through these things, let's just admit that often the approach is to kind of pretend that didn't happen.

Margot [00:05:37] Yeah.

Jim [00:05:38] There's some dynamic that just... it was like somebody's bubble just got burst.

Margot [00:05:44] It's uncomfortable.

Jim [00:05:45] And everybody's eyes are a little bit wider. Nobody knows what to do. And someone says, "OK,  so, but back to our agenda here." And they just skip over it.

Margot [00:05:55] Yeah, exactly. That is exactly it.

Jim [00:05:57] But, Margot, you're wired to really understand what's happening on an emotional level with people. What happens for people? And it's not only emotional, it's not only [00:06:11]Feelers [0.0s] in the Myers-Briggs typology that respond that way. We all have emotions. What can happen to people when the bubble gets burst but then we just kind of move on?

Margot [00:06:22] I think people feel as if they are less valuable because how they're experiencing the situation isn't being addressed. So, if it's hurt feelings or feelings of being offended or even just a feeling of being misunderstood but they haven't had the opportunity to address that and it remains unaddressed then they end up feeling resentful, undervalued, unappreciated. And it really takes its toll on the entire team.

Jim [00:06:54] [00:06:54]Yeah. [0.0s] It takes a toll even though we aren't talking [00:06:56]about it. [0.0s]

Margot [00:06:56] Exactly.

Jim [00:06:57] So, let's talk about how could a team address that kind of scenario. They're talking about a tactical problem, some dynamic mess [00:07:09]happens. Let's [0.4s] say, Bill, for the third time, has interrupted and spoke over top of Janine. What could be done in that moment?

Margot [00:07:20] I think it's important that it's addressed. And yet it's important to remember that this is a Tactical Meeting and not the place to address it in any length. So, what I would see as a solution to that would be that it's called out. It's named. Called out. If not by another team member, then by the meeting leader.

Jim [00:07:39] Sure. Yeah. Better another team member.

Margot [00:07:42]  Right. I agree. There are a couple of things that can happen. Once it's called out, the person who was being called out might...

Jim [00:07:49] Bill. Bill in my silly story...

Margot [00:07:50]  Exactly. OK. So Bill, Bill might recognize, "Oops. That's right. I should have done that differently." Acknowledge it, apologize and say, "If there's more to this, we can talk about it later."

Jim [00:08:03] Great. So it's like he received that correction in the moment.

Margot [00:08:07] Absolutely. On the other hand, if Bill did not feel able to receive that correction, still, I think it's important that the team has a way of dealing with that that's not within this Tactical Meeting and that they all understand. This is the way that we're going to handle those sorts of things. So, for example, they could put it on an ad hoc list with strategic topics. And then it's the meeting leader's responsibility to make sure that that is followed up with. The two people might be able to follow up with it on their own. But the meeting [00:08:40]leader [0.0s] should just check and make sure that that's actually happened.

Jim [00:08:43] OK.

Margot [00:08:43] But it's acknowledged. It's acknowledged that it needs to be addressed. It is addressed.

Jim [00:08:48] What we're talking about here is that we don't fall into the trap of creating meetings stew again.

Margot [00:08:54] Right.

Jim [00:08:55] The team gathered to address tactical issues. Regrettably, a dynamic problem arose in the meeting. We're not saying that you should just steam on and pretend that it didn't happen. That's dangerous. But neither are we saying you should stop everything tactical and start having a good conversation about this difficult issue.

Margot [00:09:17] Because then you're not having a Tactical Meeting.

Jim [00:09:19] Right. Right. So if [00:09:21]people... [0.0s] If the team experiences that when we meet for Tactical Meetings, we make tactical [00:09:27]decisions. And [1.5s] they also experience when we have problems with our team dynamics and maybe some emotional carnage... And I'm laughing. My chuckle isn't because it's funny. My chuckle is because people just don't know what to do with it. It's not going to be ignored. It's going to be addressed. As you said, it would be a topic just added to the strategic or ad hoc list to be [00:09:54]handled [0.0s] in one of the monthly meetings.

Margot [00:09:57] And once that's done, the meeting leader just redirects the discussion and all of the energy back to the discussion at hand.

Jim [00:10:05] So speaking of the meeting leader, let's point out that quite a few of our company clients have discovered that it's actually helpful to rotate that role around the leadership team. Not to have the team leader, the CEO, be the meeting leader every week, but maybe have someone else take that on for a month. And they lead those meetings every week for a month and then someone else every week for a month. How you've seen that?

Margot [00:10:35] Oh, yeah, that's definitely what we're seeing. And I think people feel that it helps them in a couple of different ways. Number one, everybody learns to hone their skills and to actually be able to lead a team meeting. But even more than that, it makes everybody more responsible for the larger picture.

Jim [00:10:54] Yeah. Because when [00:10:55]you're [0.0s] responsible to make the meeting happen [00:10:58]well, [0.0s] you actually have to understand the whole thing. OK. So the team leader is managing the conversation of the meeting time and they notice, oh, we've only got about 10 minutes left of our 90-minute time block. That means that we need to wrap things up, so, he or she is going to [00:11:17]bring [0.0s] to a close the discussion stage, which is Stage 3, and then quickly review the list of topics that have been added to the list for strategic or ad hoc issues. That's Stage 4. Then walk through the list of decisions and actions that were captured through the conversation. And that's Stage 5.

Margot [00:11:38] Right. And the final stage, Stage 6, is to decide together what messaging needs to flow from the meeting. So there may have been a decision or two that have to be cascaded through to the company. So it's important to clarify who actually is leading that charge. Or more often, there are simply some decisions that need to be conveyed to the company so that each one of the team members are communicating to their direct reports. So make a clear list of what those communication points are so that we're all on the same page and acting together.

Jim [00:12:11] Boom. There you have it. That's a Tactical Meeting. It's no more than 90 minutes for the executive team to bring their thinking and their resources together, making sure that we're moving the Strategic Objectives, the Defining Objectives forward every week.

Margot [00:12:29] Right. And the focus is on the collective goals so that the team is reinforcing their collective responsibility for the entire company, not just their own department.

Jim [00:12:39] Wow, it is so powerful for leadership teams to get this working well.

Margot [00:12:43] Yeah.

Jim [00:12:44] And you know, as you've listened to this, it may have prompted some questions. Maybe you've even jumped in and tried this from listening to last week's discussion and you've got some questions. Reach out to us at OrgHealth.coach. We'll be keen to help you make your meetings work.

Margot [00:13:02] That's right, because leaders working together mostly happens in meetings. So making the meetings work well is at the heart of making companies work [00:13:08]well. [0.0s]

Jim [00:13:13] OK. We want you to go out and try what we've talked about today on your own leadership team.

Margot [00:13:19] You can ask us questions or download notes from this episode at www.orghealth.coach. We'd love for you to join us next Thursday on The OrgHealth Podcast.

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