Calgary Training: Making the EXCEPTIONAL Normal - Part 7 Initial Meeting



Author: Dale Furtwengler

Making The EXCEPTIONAL Normal The Initial Meeting Theory is worthless as long as it remains theory; theory must be put into practice to gain its benefits. Now that you understand the theory behind the Making The Exceptional Normal system, let's see what's required to launch the system.


Notice If your style has been to direct your employees' activities, you are going to have to give some notice that you're changing your style. If you don't, they're going to spend a lot of time wondering what's up. When you change your style without notice, employees become skeptical of everything you say. While they're wondering what the change means, they're not working to achieve their goals.


Here's an approach, and some specific language, you can use to remove their concerns. Call your team together for a few minutes and say: "I realize that in the past I have not availed myself fully of the knowledge, skills and experience that each of you possess. I am going to remedy that going forward. The way I'm going to do that is by asking for your help in setting goals and priorities each week. We're going to start a weekly meeting format that takes less than 2 hours. In that meeting we're going to work together to establish the goals and priorities for the coming week.


This system is designed to help each of us understand what's needed from our team and to find ways to provide what's needed more effectively. Using this team approach has several advantages, it will: allow us to make sure that we don't get distracted from our goals assure that each of us is working on the most important work first help us avoid scrambling to meet deadlines help us find ways to eliminate menial tasks that put additional stress into our lives help us help each other during difficult times I can't do this alone. I need your help. I am looking for your honest opinions and your best ideas.


We'll have our first meeting, next Friday at 3 p.m. Please bring your "to do" list for the following week. We'll review everyone's list and, together, we'll decide what our goals and priorities will be for the coming week." This approach gives them the reasons why you're changing your style and the reasons make sense. They'll also appreciate the fact that you're concerned about their welfare, which is evident in your statements about reducing stress and helping each other in difficult times. Finally, they'll respect you for admitting that you don't have all the answers. These perceptions will ease the transition from your previous style to the one you'll be employing going forward.


Start on time Inevitably, some people will get phone calls that run long or they'll want to finish a task that makes them late for the meeting. Your natural inclination will be to wait until everyone is present. Don't do it! Why? When you wait, you tell the tardy employees that they are more important to the process than those who are on time. You also give them permission to be late in the future. For the employees who show up on time, you're telling them that they aren't as important as those who are missing. In effect, you're penalizing the people who are acting in the team's best interests and rewarding those who aren't.


That's not what you want to do. What message do you send when you start on time? You tell your employees that these meetings are important. You also reward those who are on time by respecting their time. Finally, you let tardy employees know that the team is going to move forward with or without them.


There is another tip I'd like to give you. It, again, deals with tardy employees. Do not review previous discussions or decisions with those who are tardy. Rather, communicate only those decisions that affect them. When conveying these decisions provide only the goals, priorities and deadlines. Do not allow the tardy employees o open discussions on these decisions. Instead, tell them that if they want input into future decisions they need be present at the start of the meeting. They'll get the message.


Discuss success


As each employee discusses her or his "to do" list, find a way to genuinely compliment them on something the person does well. Try to do this as early in the discussion as possible. Your statements recognizing your employees' success makes it easier for them to open up about their ideas. It's human nature to be open with people who think well of us and to be cautious with those who don't. Make sure that your employees know that you think highly of them.


Reminder


Repeat the notice so that your employees are reminded of the reasons for this new approach. Hearing the message a second time reinforces its importance to their welfare.


Volunteerism


Let your employees know that each of them will experience weeks where the workload is impossible. One of the reasons for the new approach is to minimize the impact those weeks have on your employees. Here's an example you can use. Assume one team member has a lot of urgent, important work to accomplish in next week. Another team member has an equal amount of work to do, but it's not as urgent or important. Tell them that what you'd like to see happen; that is to have the second team member volunteer to help the first during that week. Then assure the volunteer that she'll get help catching up on her work the following week, assuming it's a priority. This approach encourages and rewards volunteerism. The encouragement comes in the form of doing important work first. The reward comes by assuring the volunteer that she won't be left in the lurch later.


The Carrot


Let your employees know that this system is designed to identify redundancies in the system and remove non-essential tasks from their workload. Tell them that you have a lot of projects in the works that require their talents and that they'll have opportunities to work on these projects as they finds ways to accomplish the current work more quickly. You're sending two messages with these statements. The first is that increased efficiency will not translate into lost jobs. That's a fear that employees have. The second aspect of the message is that they have an opportunity to tackle new challenges, learn new things and experience success in new areas. That's exciting! Just make sure that you have projects for them to tackle when they develop free time


Questions


Ask you employees whether they have any questions about the system, then answer them honestly. Don't be afraid to ask for their ideas when they ask about things you haven't considered. They'll appreciate your honesty and candor. They'll also appreciate the opportunity to participate in the decision on how to handle those situations. It's a great way to demonstrate the genuineness of your interest in their involvement. My experience is that most questions revolve around job security. This is a good time to share with them some of the projects you'd like to see them tackle when time is available. When they see that you do, indeed, have additional work for the future and they'll be less concerned about their future employment. While you can't protect them from decisions made above, you can assure them that you don't intend to reduce staff.


Here's a little tip for dealing with questions. Always frame your response in terms of what's important to the employee, then discuss why it's also good for the company. By placing your employees' interests first, you'll gain greater cooperation. Review "to do" lists Have each employee discuss his workload (based on his "to do" list) for the coming week, then ask him to prioritize the work.


If you disagree with the employee's priorities, avoid the natural inclination to tell him what those priorities should be. Instead, ask questions about why each of the tasks is important, this will give you a clue as to what facts he's considering and what he might be overlooking. Then you can deal with the priority issue without criticizing his decision.


Consensus


Once your team establishes its goals and priorities for the coming week, ask for their impression of the overall plan. It helps them realize what they've accomplished and reinforces their commitment to the plan. Follow up meetings Establish a regular meeting schedule, preferably the same day and time each week. Let them know that in the future meetings you'll discuss their successes first, then plan for the following week. Please note the use of the term "successes" in the previous sentence. You want your employees to look forward to future meetings with excitement, not dread.


These are the steps needed to ease your team into the Making The Exceptional Normal system. Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, internationally-acclaimed author and business consultant. All of Dale’s work is based on the skill of counter-intuitive thinking - a way of thinking that is contrary to what our human nature suggests. To see more examples of counter-intuitive thinking at work visit www.furtwengler.com/theinvaluableleader/. Copyright © 2000, Dale Furtwengler, all rights reserved

Theory is worthless as long as it remains theory; theory must be put into practice to gain its benefits. Now that you understand the theory behind the Making The Exceptional Normal system, let's see what's required to launch the system


Notice

If your style has been to direct your employees' activities, you are going to have to give some notice that you're changing your style. If you don't, they're going to spend a lot of time wondering what's up.

When you change your style without notice, employees become skeptical of everything you say. While they're wondering what the change means, they're not working to achieve their goals. Here's an approach, and some specific language, you can use to remove their concerns. Call your team together for a few minutes and say:

"I realize that in the past I have not availed myself fully of the knowledge, skills and experience that each of you possess. I am going to remedy that going forward. The way I'm going to do that is by asking for your help in setting goals and priorities each week


We're going to start a weekly meeting format that takes less than 2 hours. In that meeting we're going to work together to establish the goals and priorities for the coming week. This system is designed to help each of us understand what's needed from our team and to find ways to provide what's needed more effectively. Using this team approach has several advantages, it will:

  • allow us to make sure that we don't get distracted from our goals
  • assure that each of us is working on the most important work first
  • help us avoid scrambling to meet deadlines
  • help us find ways to eliminate menial tasks that put additional stress into our lives
  • help us help each other during difficult times

I can't do this alone. I need your help. I am looking for your honest opinions and your best ideas. We'll have our first meeting, next Friday at 3 p.m. Please bring your "to do" list for the following week. We'll review everyone's list and, together, we'll decide what our goals and priorities will be for the coming week."

This approach gives them the reasons why you're changing your style and the reasons make sense. They'll also appreciate the fact that you're concerned about their welfare, which is evident in your statements about reducing stress and helping each other in difficult times. Finally, they'll respect you for admitting that you don't have all the answers. These perceptions will ease the transition from your previous style to the one you'll be employing going forward


Start on time

Inevitably, some people will get phone calls that run long or they'll want to finish a task that makes them late for the meeting. Your natural inclination will be to wait until everyone is present. Don't do it! Why?

When you wait, you tell the tardy employees that they are more important to the process than those who are on time. You also give them permission to be late in the future


For the employees who show up on time, you're telling them that they aren't as important as those who are missing. In effect, you're penalizing the people who are acting in the team's best interests and rewarding those who aren't. That's not what you want to do


What message do you send when you start on time? You tell your employees that these meetings are important. You also reward those who are on time by respecting their time. Finally, you let tardy employees know that the team is going to move forward with or without them


There is another tip I'd like to give you. It, again, deals with tardy employees. Do not review previous discussions or decisions with those who are tardy. Rather, communicate only those decisions that affect them. When conveying these decisions provide only the goals, priorities and deadlines. Do not allow the tardy employees o open discussions on these decisions. Instead, tell them that if they want input into future decisions they need be present at the start of the meeting. They'll get the message


Discuss success

As each employee discusses her or his "to do" list, find a way to genuinely compliment them on something the person does well. Try to do this as early in the discussion as possible. Your statements recognizing your employees' success makes it easier for them to open up about their ideas. It's human nature to be open with people who think well of us and to be cautious with those who don't. Make sure that your employees know that you think highly of them


Reminder

Repeat the notice so that your employees are reminded of the reasons for this new approach. Hearing the message a second time reinforces its importance to their welfare


Volunteerism

Let your employees know that each of them will experience weeks where the workload is impossible. One of the reasons for the new approach is to minimize the impact those weeks have on your employees. Here's an example you can use


Assume one team member has a lot of urgent, important work to accomplish in next week. Another team member has an equal amount of work to do, but it's not as urgent or important. Tell them that what you'd like to see happen; that is to have the second team member volunteer to help the first during that week. Then assure the volunteer that she'll get help catching up on her work the following week, assuming it's a priority. This approach encourages and rewards volunteerism. The encouragement comes in the form of doing important work first. The reward comes by assuring the volunteer that she won't be left in the lurch later


The Carrot

Let your employees know that this system is designed to identify redundancies in the system and remove non-essential tasks from their workload. Tell them that you have a lot of projects in the works that require their talents and that they'll have opportunities to work on these projects as they finds ways to accomplish the current work more quickly


You're sending two messages with these statements. The first is that increased efficiency will not translate into lost jobs. That's a fear that employees have. The second aspect of the message is that they have an opportunity to tackle new challenges, learn new things and experience success in new areas. That's exciting! Just make sure that you have projects for them to tackle when they develop free time


Questions

Ask you employees whether they have any questions about the system, then answer them honestly. Don't be afraid to ask for their ideas when they ask about things you haven't considered. They'll appreciate your honesty and candor. They'll also appreciate the opportunity to participate in the decision on how to handle those situations. It's a great way to demonstrate the genuineness of your interest in their involvement


My experience is that most questions revolve around job security. This is a good time to share with them some of the projects you'd like to see them tackle when time is available. When they see that you do, indeed, have additional work for the future and they'll be less concerned about their future employment. While you can't protect them from decisions made above, you can assure them that you don't intend to reduce staff


Here's a little tip for dealing with questions. Always frame your response in terms of what's important to the employee, then discuss why it's also good for the company. By placing your employees' interests first, you'll gain greater cooperation


Review "to do" lists

Have each employee discuss his workload (based on his "to do" list) for the coming week, then ask him to prioritize the work. If you disagree with the employee's priorities, avoid the natural inclination to tell him what those priorities should be. Instead, ask questions about why each of the tasks is important, this will give you a clue as to what facts he's considering and what he might be overlooking. Then you can deal with the priority issue without criticizing his decision


Consensus

Once your team establishes its goals and priorities for the coming week, ask for their impression of the overall plan. It helps them realize what they've accomplished and reinforces their commitment to the plan


Follow up meetings

Establish a regular meeting schedule, preferably the same day and time each week. Let them know that in the future meetings you'll discuss their successes first, then plan for the following week. Please note the use of the term "successes" in the previous sentence. You want your employees to look forward to future meetings with excitement, not dread


These are the steps needed to ease your team into the Making The Exceptional Normal system



Copyright © 2000, Dale Furtwengler, all rights reserved


About the Author:

Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, internationally-acclaimed author and a business consultant who uses counter-intuitive thinking to help his clients increase profits without adding resources. For more information on how counter-intuitive thinking can work for you visit www.furtwengler.com/theinvaluableleader/. For business leaders who would like to get higher prices for their products and services visit www.pricingforprofitbook.com/.


Article Source: ArticlesBase.com - Making the EXCEPTIONAL Normal - Part 7 Initial Meeting

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