Monday, August 30, 2021

Podcast episode about Onboarding

A few weeks ago, I was back on the GovLove podcast, joining ELGL Executive Director Kirsten Wyatt. This time, we discussed effective onboarding practices. You can find my episode here or look up GovLove on your favorite podcast app. This episode is number 458. 

This episode was great fun. Kirsten and I opened things up by talking about time travel and having coffee with fictional characters. Then we got down to business. While the Onboarding Part 1, Onboarding Part 2, and Onboarding Schedule Example posts cover most of the content from the episode, I still encourage you to give it a listen. You get to hear Kirsten's opinion throughout, and we get to go into greater detail. 

ELGL (, or Engaging Local Government Leaders, describes itself as an "accidental professional organization" that began as a small dinner group. Today, ELGL has over 4,800 members. The organization provides content for government workers through a wide variety of channels: the GovLove podcast, webinars, daily articles on their website, learning cohorts and conferences.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Don't Alter Your Management for Poor Employees

Actions to take: Do not take on extra work (or make others take on extra work) to make up for poor performance. Talk with the problem employee using the usual means that this blog recommends (one-on-ones and routine feedback). Leave it in their court to do the fixing. Accept that things may get worse before they get better.

Way back in the day, libraries used card catalogs to keep track of where they kept the books. It was essentially like a giant recipe box with index cards. Each card had information about each book: title, author, Dewey Decimal number, etc. A cataloger might create thousands of these cards each year. I knew of one cataloger who got a chewing out because, one time, a day's batch of cards went missing in transit from their desk to its final destination. From then on, the cataloger made a duplicate card for every single book they cataloged, doubling their workload. The issue never came up again.

The moral to this story: "Don't create a new procedure based on a single, isolated event."

In the post about what counts as "not public" for feedback, we imagined an employee who was willing to eavesdrop on conversation clearly not meant for them. Let's work through a solution to that problem. The only way to be absolutely sure they are are not overhearing comments meant for others (for instance, feedback to their coworkers) is to stop giving feedback anywhere except your office with the door closed. We need to do everything we can to make feedback feel safe, after all. 

This is the easy answer. We control our actions. We know for sure this will solve the issue. It is also the wrong answer. It completely ignores the moral we just learned. 

When you change your managerial behaviors for one poor performer, you set a bad precedent. It is tantamount to saying, "You, employee, have the power in this relationship. You can force me to be less effective that I could otherwise be, do things I would rather not do." In the scenario we just described, we are making more work for ourselves and making it harder to give feedback, all because some employee is doing an inappropriate and uncourteous thing. 

We accommodate problematic behaviors in countless ways. You are undoubtedly doing at least a few things to work around problems with your employees. Do you have an employee who is a little bit of a bully with their opinions during meetings, and you side-step it rather than coaching them on it? Do you have an employee who always has excuses for missing deadlines, making others rush through other parts of the process? Do you have an employee who claims to be perfectly fine with every plan but quietly harbors resentment when things are done differently from how they would have? We have to get things done, so we do whatever is necessary to work around these little problems in the moment. The thing is, we are always busy. There is never a convenient time to address the root issue. 

We've got a spiral of cause and effect here. We do a little more work to get around these little problems, making us a little busier, making it a little harder to find time to fix the underlying problem. There seems to be no escape. This is the ultimate result of altering your managerial behaviors when you encounter poor performance from your employees. 

So what is the answer? Frankly, you are going to have to let things get a little worse before they get better. You need to stop fixing the problem for the employee. Only then will they feel real pressure to fix the problem themselves. Your job is to provide coaching and feedback and explicitly state expectations of the job. Their job is to do the work within the parameters of that guidance. When you find workarounds for problems, you are both failing to do your job properly. 

You've got an employee who is chronically late on deadlines? Stop rushing other parts of the work to make sure the whole thing gets in on time. Start letting the whole thing be a little late. When your boss asks, be honest about where the issue is (or preempt this by giving your boss the heads up before things start coming in late). You've got an employee who eavesdrops on private conversations? Have a very serious feedback conversation where you explain that it cannot happen again and change nothing about your own behavior. You must allow for the possibility that it might happen again in order for the employee to prove that they will not do it again.

Bonus piece of advice: if you have been accommodating poor performance, it may be wise to fess up to your part in all this. Consider telling the employee that you have realized you are enabling issues to continue and that you will not in the future. 

There is one more major downside that comes from accommodating problematic behaviors: you hide the extent of the problem from other parts of the organization, specifically HR and the management chain above you. They might blithely listen to you complain about a problem employee, but everything is going okay as far as they are concerned. From their perspective, you've got it under control. It must not be that big a deal. Congratulations, through your hard work, you have saddled yourself with poor performers that you will never be able to let go of.

Average bosses find themselves bending over backwards to fix dozens of little problems for their employees. They don't know how to properly help employees improve, so their only recourse is to change their own behavior. "Employee A can't [Blank], so I'll [Blank] instead. Employee B refuses to [Blank], so I have to do [Blank] workaround." So on and so forth. They end up becoming fantastically overworked micromanagers. Better bosses live up to the adage that two wrongs don't make a right. They understand that it is their job to help employees do well through coaching, feedback, and other communication, but it is emphatically not their job to cover for poor performance.

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Feedback: "What Could You do Differently?"

Actions to take: In almost all cases, stick to the typical feedback formula. When you need to prompt the employee to think critically about negative feedback, change the final question to "What could you do differently?" Keep the ensuing conversation short, and avoid spoon-feeding solutions to your employee. advocates for casual, frequent performance feedback using the following formula: 1) ask if you can provide feedback; 2) provide feedback using the format "when you do X, it has Y impact"; 3) finish with a question asking them to change or an affirmation that they should keep it up. Feedback is short, simple, and can be about any work behavior. All posts about feedback assume this formula and strategy.

I start every feedback post on this blog with a blurb in italics that describes the 3-step feedback formula we recommend here at better-boss. It's right there above this paragraph. Those three steps have appeared over a dozen times now. In today's post, we are going to talk about changing step three.

With negative feedback, we typically ask a yes-or-no question to cap off feedback: "Can I give you some feedback? When you turn your back to the audience while presenting, it makes it hard to hear, and some of the meaning gets lost. Can you work on that?" The employee just gives a quick yes, and the conversation is over. 

We do it this way for a couple reasons. First, feedback is meant to be small, so we want to keep the conversation small. No need to dwell on something that isn't a big deal, right? Second, feedback (negative feedback especially), is an emotional hit, despite our best efforts to keep it casual. It is a fact that your employee's heart rate is going to go up a little, their mind will be racing a little, when they get negative feedback. If you try to engage in further conversation about the feedback, it is usually unproductive. A person just isn't in a good mental state for calm, rational problem-solving immediately after feedback.

There will be times in your managerial career where your instincts tell you that the normal yes-or-no question isn't quite enough. Maybe your employee has been blasé and ignored feedback in the past. Maybe the feedback is a bit nuanced, and it isn't obvious what the employee needs to do differently. Maybe you've got an employee who craves more coaching and wants to be led more explicitly. 

For times where it makes sense to do a little bit more with feedback, change step three in the formula. Extend the conversation by asking them what they could do differently rather than simply asking them to do it differently.

"Can I give you some feedback? When you turn your back to the audience while presenting, it makes it hard to hear, and some of the meaning gets lost. What could you do differently to fix it for next time?" This change pushes your employees to engage with the problem directly. You start a dialogue about solving the problem then and there. Let them do most of the talking.  Your half of the conversation should mainly be a few prompting questions.

Do not spoon-feed solutions to your employees. The goal of this change is to get your employees to actively engage with negative feedback, not to fix this particular problem. Assuming they give you any kind of thoughtful answer (e.g. something more than just "I guess I'll look at the audience more" in response to our example feedback), agree that it sounds worth trying and move on. Even with this change to the feedback formula, feedback should not be more than a minute or two at the most. 

This change in the formula is perfect for when you find yourself giving the same feedback to someone the third or fourth time. When employees fail to fix problems after negative feedback, the reason is almost always unintentional. We often think, "Okay, I'll fix it" and assume that's enough to make us remember to do better next time. But it is difficult to rewire those neurons when a habit has set in. "What could you do differently" = "You need to take a minute and actually come up with a plan for fixing this, not just assume it will fix itself because you want it to." 

To be clear, we all fix problems just by saying, "I'll do it better next time." It often works. If you rarely forget your keys, then forget them once, you can fix that problem simply by setting your intention not to forget them again. But if you frequently forget your keys, you probably need to come up with a plan for changing your behavior before the problem will be solved. This change to the feedback formula helps an employee make that plan.

99 times out of 100, the standard feedback formula is the right choice. When you need to get your employee to engage with the feedback a little more, "What could you do differently?" is the quickest, best way to do it. If you try it out, feel free tell me how it goes. Leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

How to Make Conversation

Actions to take: Put work into paying attention to others' interest level during a conversation. If they are more interested than you, stay on the topic longer than you normally would. If less, try to cut off your thoughts a little early. Make conversation flow easily using the following structure for your comments: 1) acknowledge what the other person said, 2) say whatever is on your mind, 3) ask them a question.

Note: this advice pertains to everyday conversations, spontaneous work conversations, one-on-one meetings with your direct reports, and similar situations. Be selective about applying this advice to meetings that you are running. Meetings with agendas, structure, and specific desired outcomes have a different set of social norms, and you may need to be a bit more abrupt in your communication at times.

Are you an expert conversationalist? Can you deftly engage virtually anyone in conversation, enter and exit discussions smoothly when you want, and get your points across while making the other person feel heard no matter the circumstance? If your answer is, "yes," you can safely skip this blog entry. For the rest of us, here is a very simple strategy for improving your conversational skill.

In a workplace, we have a lot of topics to cover in a relatively short period of time. This leads a lot of managers to rationalize the negative consequences of abruptly cutting from one topic to the next or ending a conversation. In almost all live communication, and in one-on-ones especially, bosses can be so caught up in "getting the conversation done" that they destroy the value of having a conversation. 

Remember, the point of having a conversation is rarely just an information dump. We might wish that communication were that simple. It is not. The world is not that simple. Humans are not that simple. We have conversation to help understand one another. That takes time and a little bit of finesse. 

When a boss, or anyone for that matter, abruptly changes topic in a conversation, it makes the other person doubt. The other person doubts that the boss cared about the last topic. Doubt that the boss heard their thoughts on that topic. Doubt that the boss cares about their thoughts on the last topic. This is a little bit melodramatic, I admit. If you are generally a thoughtful, caring person, then the other party won't think this completely. But you are still undermining yourself when you fail to engage in the finer details of making conversation. 

We've mentioned finesse, and we've mentioned the finer details, but what, exactly, are we supposed to do differently? There are two very easy strategies that will make people think of you as an excellent conversationalist. 

First and foremost, start paying attention to the other person's interest in the topic. If they are more excited about it than you are, stay on that topic longer than you want to. On the other hand, you may be the type to talk at length about things. Train yourself to watch for when others' attention fades (are they giving one word answers? Looking away a lot? Not making an effort to contribute their own thoughts?). Make it part of your job to match the other person a little bit more closely.

Second, you can make a conversation flow naturally and easily for as long as you want (2 minutes, 20 minutes, 2 hours) with the following strategy. Any time it is your "conversational turn," structure your thoughts like this:

  1. Acknowledge what the other person just said,
  2. Say whatever you have on your mind, and
  3. Ask an open-ended question. 

If you want to continue that same topic, it might look like this: "I know what you mean about the new layout of our software. [Thoughts about how it is worse in some ways, better in others, and how to get over the problems with it]. How well do you think those things would work?" 

If you need to move on to the next topic, here's how it might go: "The new layout has some problems for sure. Let's talk a little bit about the office space discussion you brought up in our last one-on-one. [Continue with your latest thoughts on subject]. What thoughts have you had about it since last week?"

This works due to a concept I mentioned earlier, the conversational turn. Conversations become stilted or awkward when it is not totally clear who should be talking, or when they are done. Have you ever witnessed someone continue add every thought as it occurs to them, seemingly without any plan to stop talking? It happens in interviews fairly often. It is because the person doesn't know how "pass the conversational turn" back to the other party (or are so nervous they forgot). Asking a question is the most common, easiest way to pass the conversational turn. 

That explains the last step. The middle step is obvious—you're saying whatever it is that you wanted to say. 

Regarding the first step, we could say "this is just good manners," and leave it at that. But let's take a moment. Etiquette has a purpose. It fulfills some necessary or useful function when dealing with others. In this case, the good etiquette accomplishes two things. First, it makes the other person feel heard. We can't very well acknowledge what the other person said without listening to it. Second, it forces us to actually listen. If you know that you'll be acknowledging their comment in some way, it pushes you to pay attention to what they are saying, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. 

Knowing how to make conversation is a skill that is helpful to everyone everywhere. To be an effective boss, you have to develop relationships with your employees. Jolting, awkward conversation is high on the list of things that signal, "we barely understand one another." Use the tips we just discussed to make a better impression, have better conversation, and develop work relationships more easily. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

One-on-Ones: First Question the Same

Actions to take: Come up with a question or phrase to use at the start of every one-on-one meeting. Pick something that makes it obvious to employees that you are passing the meeting to them to discuss whatever they want to talk about. When employees make a little fun of it, know that you are on the right track.

To be a truly effective boss, the most important thing you can do is build a trusting relationship with each employee. By far the easiest way to do that is through routine one-on-one meetings. recommends that those meetings are scheduled, 30 minutes, weekly, and rarely missed, with the first half of the meeting spent on whatever they want to discuss and the second half for whatever you want to discuss. All posts about one-on-ones assume this strategy.

When you step into your boss's room for a one-on-one, how confident are you that you know what happens next? If you are like the vast majority of employees, you are always a little unsure. You don't know how much time you will have for your stuff; you don't know what kind of mood your boss is going to be in; you don't know if they are going to hit you with some criticism of your work and spend the whole time talking about it; you don't know if the boss will have almost nothing; you don't know if the meeting will last 10 minutes or 70. 

Now, how confident are you that your employees won't describe you the same way? Here's how you ensure that you put your best foot forward at the start of every one-on-one meeting. 

Some of the answer comes down to being prepared for every one-on-one by having a list of things to discuss. Some of it is about keeping a professional demeanor. But a big part of helping your employees navigate the weekly one-on-one is to simply ask the exact same question every time you start a one-on-one. 

My go to is, "What would you to talk about today?" but it can be nearly anything. "What's on your list?" "How's it going?" "What's new?" The "question" could even be a statement: "The floor is yours." The only requirements are that you say the same thing at the start of every meeting and that your employee understands it to mean that it is now time for them to talk about whatever they want to talk about. 

When you ask the same question at the beginning of the meeting, it has three big benefits:

  1. It signals the start of the meeting. All meetings have a bit of preamble before they officially start. Usually the group chats until the last person arrives, at which point the meeting begins. In a one-on-one, obviously you will not start the meeting the moment the person gets in the door. At the very least, the two of you will say hello and give time for the other person to sit down. There is always a little bit of a void during the transition between greeting and meeting. This question fills that void.
  2. It circumvents awkwardness. You know that thing where you are walking toward someone and they're walking toward you, then you both step out of the way in the same direction? You end up doing a little dance as you both try to politely step aside for the other person. It is sometimes funny, always awkward. You'll get the verbal equivalent of that all the time in your one-on-ones if you don't have "your question" at the ready.
  3. It passes the conversation to them. This is the most important benefit. We want our employees to discuss literally whatever they want during their time in the one-on-one, unbiased by what we want to discuss. If you don't have a standard way of starting the meeting, you will end up influencing the direction of their topics. Even the seemingly benign "How was your weekend?" will alter the course of the conversation. They'll talk about what happened, and, to be genial, you'll respond with your weekend activities. Suddenly 10 of the 30 minutes is gone from the meeting. (Note: If the employee chooses to spend their time talking about their weekend, great! But it needs to be their choice, not yours.)

Once you start doing this, it will become a bit of a joke. Employees might comment on it to you or to each other. They might anticipate you, saying it first or saying it in sync with you and jinxing you until you buy them a coke. That is a good thing. It means that your employees get why you do it. It also means that they are comfortable enough around you to poke a little fun at your behavior. Many bosses never get to that level of rapport. 

Bonus advice: What if you are the employee in this scenario? Your boss does one-on-ones but doesn't seem to know how to start them. You can fix this problem as the employee in nearly the same way. Come up with a question to ask your boss about the work: "So, have you got anything in particular that we should cover today?" Or, after pleasantries, find a statement that indicates you have a few things to cover: "I've got a few things on my list if we've got time?" Yes, this should be your boss's problem to fix, but you can pick up the ball if they do not. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Day Off

I am delighted to say that my wife and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary today. See you all next Monday, when we will get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Feedback: What Counts as "Not Public"

Actions to take: Don't interpret "not public" too strictly. It will hamper the quality and quantity of your feedback. Give feedback when it is clear that you are just talking to one person and not intending your comment for anyone else to hear. That can occur in a wide variety of context that technically count as public spaces. advocates for casual, frequent performance feedback using the following formula: 1) ask if you can provide feedback; 2) provide feedback using the format "when you do X, it has Y impact"; 3) finish with a question asking them to change or an affirmation that they should keep it up. Feedback is short, simple, and can be about any work behavior. All posts about feedback assume this formula and strategy.

If you agree with the premise that feedback is never public, you might be thinking that you need to pull someone into your office and shut the door every time you want to give feedback. I appreciate your enthusiasm! However, that takes "not public" a little too far.

Interpreting "not public" that strictly will hamper your ability to give feedback. You'll find yourself giving less feedback. You will delay giving feedback too many days, waiting for the perfect environment, and the wait will make your feedback less effective. We don't need to make these sacrifices.

There is no need to hide in a soundproof chamber to give feedback. Generally, "not public" just means it is clear that you are only talking to one person. People know what they are intended to hear. If your words are intended to only reach one person, others will respect that. (If you have anyone on your team who does not respect it and intentionally eavesdrops on conversations that are not meant for them, that is not a problem with how you are delivering feedback. That is a problem with having an employee who needs a serious conversation about respectful workplace behaviors.)

That's the general rule of thumb. Let's get specific. Situations that are "not public" and therefore fine to give feedback:

  • Your office, door closed or door open
  • Their workspace, even if it is an open floor plan, assuming there is some ambient noise
  • During a break in a meeting, assuming that you are next to one another
  • During a virtual meeting, using a channel only the two of you can hear
  • In a cafeteria, coffee shop, or other public space where individual conversations occur
  • At a customer service desk, assuming there are no customer interactions happening and no other staff present
  • A few steps away from a customer service desk
Situations that are "public" and it is not an acceptable time to give feedback:
  • Your office when others are present in the office
  • During a meeting while others are watching and listening
  • Interrupting a customer service interaction to give feedback in front of the customer
  • Interrupting a conversation between coworkers to give feedback to one in front of the other
  • During a break in a virtual meeting using the general voice channel others can hear
  • Any of the "not public" spaces from the first list, but you use a louder volume than is appropriate for that type of conversation. (Raising your volume typically indicates, "Hey, other people listen up even though I am ostensibly talking to this one person")

If in doubt, use your common sense. Think of your personal life. We can have engaging one-on-one conversations in a crowded house, in a restaurant, waiting for the bus, etc. It is the same at work. "Not public" just means that you are only giving feedback when there is not an audience there to hear it. That leaves the door open (does that count as a pun?) to give feedback in a wide variety of contexts.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Feedback is Never Public

Actions to take: Never give feedback, positive or negative, in public. Save it for when you can speak to the person it is intended for individually. If you are the type to speak your opinion on others' actions before you think, learn to master that behavior. advocates for casual, frequent performance feedback using the following formula: 1) ask if you can provide feedback; 2) provide feedback using the format "when you do X, it has Y impact"; 3) finish with a question asking them to change or an affirmation that they should keep it up. Feedback is short, simple, and can be about any work behavior. All posts about feedback assume this formula and strategy.

I once had a boss with no filter. Things like, "That's wrong," "Don't you know you can't do it that way?" and "Why would you think that's okay?" were routine responses to what we, his employees, thought were normal work behaviors. We commiserated with each other and got used to it. But after I transferred, he became the interim for my management position. He was now routinely interacting with people two and three levels below him. Although he was perfectly pleasant in most respects, my old employees were terrified of him. The office became a place of near silence. People stopped making even the most benign comments about their work out of fear that he would berate them in front of everyone.

My old manager's comments were feedback only in the broadest sense of the word. I would describe them more as "useless junk that only served to demoralize," but he probably thought he was helping. He thought that pointing out our flaws in this way was useful. He might have even been doing it in front of people on purpose, to give us that extra little bit of incentive not to mess up in the future.

The thing is, shaming comments are always ineffective, no matter your intentions. Any comment that frames an issue as "you did bad" or "you should have known better" is a form of punishment, and that goes double when there is a crowd. My old boss's actions violated multiple fundamental principles about proper management: 

  • Punishment is fine for compliance, terrible for commitment. Giving negative feedback in front of an audience is on the mild side as punishments go, and people will get over it. But it is just not a smart way to manage. When it comes to lasting change, is simply more effective to engage people's motivational feelings and desire to be our best selves, rather than engaging negative feelings that rely on embarrassment or shame. Shame-based feelings will get us to fix or hide that individual issue. Motivation-based feelings will get us thinking about how to improve generally. 
  • We wouldn't want it done to us, so we shouldn't do it to others. Raise your hand if you like it when your mistakes are aired in front of a crowd. Raise your hand if you need to have an audience hear your mistakes before you are willing to change them. Nobody, right? Some bosses might say, "Yea, well I don't need it, but they..." However they finish that sentence, they are wrong. Your employees are just as capable and mature as you when it comes to their work.
  • It is unnecessarily tough management. Any negative emotion you show as a boss gets magnified in your employee's perception. What feels like mild annoyance to you sounds like complete condemnation to them. Letting someone know about their mistake quietly one-on-one is both the kinder and more effective way of getting better future performance out of them.

You were probably already on board with the idea that bosses should not criticize in public. Here is the harder sell: positive feedback is never public either. 

There is one major reason we do not give positive feedback in public. Feedback is for the individual. A fundamental part of feedback, as we define it at better-boss, is that you have crafted it to help that particular person be better in some particular way based on some particular action they recently took. When others are present for the feedback, it causes two problems. 

  1. The audience will misinterpret it. Imagine that you only have two employees. One is always the first to speak up, leaving little room for others' comments. The other tends to be too quiet about their thoughts. Imagine your quiet employee speaks up, and you give them positive feedback encouraging them to speak up more in the future. What will your other employee conclude? "The boss likes when we share our thoughts! I should also share my thoughts more often!" The feedback one person needs is not the feedback another needs.
  2. Any time there is an audience, it becomes a show. The intended recipient no longer experiences it as feedback. They would instinctually focus on "showing" that they took the feedback, rather than simply taking the feedback. Using our quiet employee example above, that positive feedback hints at a shortcoming that they absolutely do not want others thinking about. The employee now has to navigate and mask feeling exposed in front of a coworker. Even for feedback that is about something the employee already does well, they will have the awkward added task of thinking about what others are thinking about them. 

At this point you may be saying, "Sure, we don't want to give that kind of feedback in public. But sometimes public feedback is good!" 

You are probably thinking of praise. Feedback, even positive feedback, is advice for effective future performance. Feedback is, "Hey, you will do well if you keep doing this thing." It is not a celebration of their work. "Hey, great job!" is praise. That is a separate thing that you should also do. If you want to praise publicly, fine. Though, frankly, you will be surprised how few employees want even praise to be public. 

Feedback is already a complicated social interaction. Don't make it even more complicated by doing it in front of an audience.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Team Meeting Series Summary

We have all attended terrible meetings. Meetings where you can hear a pin drop any time the facilitator is not speaking. Meetings where saying anything at all feels like you are putting your neck on the chopping block. Meetings where the material is so boring that it is all you can do to stay awake, much less try to contribute. Meetings where you don't know why you're there. Meetings that have an important purpose, but you never get around to it because they are so disorganized. 

Do everything in your power to prevent your team meetings from falling into one of these categories. If it already is, do everything in your power to fix it. In this Team Meeting Series, we provided a detailed how-to explanation for creating effective team meetings. After introducing the topic, here is what we covered:

Do all these things, and your meetings will become the best meetings your team has ever attended. Keep an eye out for the following indicators that your team meetings are successful:

  • When you ask for thoughts during the meeting, multiple people want to speak, and not just employees who always want to speak up. (This indicates that your team feels that the meeting is a safe place to share their opinions)
  • Following the meeting, your employees have animated conversation about items from the meeting. (This indicates that your meeting topics are engaging enough for people to keep thinking about them afterward)
  • People start self-managing during the meeting: they think about time allotments and cut off their thoughts; they follow and use the ground rules during their discourse; they pull the topic back on track when it gets on a tangent; etc. (This indicates that they have respect for the protocols you have created for the meeting)
  • Most weeks, staff members suggest items for the team meeting. (This indicates that they feel it is a worthwhile place for information sharing and discussion)
  • When visitors attend your meeting, they make comments about how engaged your team is. 

After you run a few meetings based on the advice from this Team Meeting Series, these indicators will start cropping up. After a few months, it will become the expectation. You will get so used to having engaging, productive meetings that it will feel bizarre to attend meetings where these things aren't happening. That is when you know you've been successful.

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