Getting your team on the same page is an art form in itself. Keeping them there is something else. Once everyone is on the same page, they make the assumption that everyone else not only “gets it” in the meeting, but will continue to “get it” in the time between meetings. The tragic flaw of team thinking….
Keeping folks on the same page throughout the duration of a project is akin to herding cats… or maybe yet another alternative ending to Lost. (OK, I promise I won’t mention that show again in this blog….)
However, what team members choose to do between meetings in preparation for the next meeting can be a real shocker during the meeting if you don’t manage this process as well. You may be the greatest facilitator, but we’ve all been in meetings where we are taking two steps back to regroup and get everyone back on the same page before we can move forward. Constantly regrouping and re-building consensus can eat up a lot of time during team meetings. If this sounds familiar, read on.
Then there are the between-meeting email exchanges and discussion strings between team members which may or may not resemble the task at hand. You wonder where you went wrong – or where these team members felt they had the latitude to enter a parallel universe in seeking solutions.
Then there are the team members who figure out “everything” in a design frenzy in which they assume every team member’s responsibility. And send their results out to the rest of the team members, thereby building dissent in the ranks.
Come on. I know you know what I am talking about. It’s more like entropy rather than team-building.
What you do as a team leader between meetings is perhaps more critical than how you facilitate the meeting itself. I’m not talking about micromanaging folks (we all know more than our fair share of micro-managers). It’s a matter of reporting on results of the meeting, setting goals for the subsequent meeting and perhaps feeding information on related topics (news links, relevant articles on complementary technologies, cartoons, etc.) that keeps folks moving forward and keeping a fresh perspective.
The most important aspect of keeping folks on the same page is establishing yourself as a thought leader. You may not be a specialist in one particular area or another (or then again, maybe you are). You may be the individual that management has selected because they feel you have leadership potential (even if you don’t see that in yourself). Being a thought leader may mean being able to evoke creative thinking and positive attitude in others. No, I am not telling you to be a cheer-leader. Rather than getting staled out in “same old, same old” team approaches to solutions, you may have the opportunity to encourage folks on your team to work together solving a particular issue, and the folks you select may seem like the Odd Couple to other team members.
Leading teams isn’t just a matter of following your company’s recipe for seeking quality outcomes. It may also involve being comfortable and confident enough in your own abilities to listen to others. I can’t emphasize enough the value of asking good questions based on what you know, what they’ve said, what you’ve read and what crosses your mind when you really aren’t concentrating on the project. That’s the glue that holds teams together and creates synergy when the team comes together to meet.
Think about it. When’s the last time you really looked forward to a team meeting? You may have a role to play in changing your team’s attitudes and productivity at the next meeting.
Now I say that’s something to look forward to.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.