Category Archives: Meetings

Losing Control?

Raphael was glum.

“Why the long face?” I asked.

“I have been having difficulty with my team meetings. Everyone comes in looking ready to go, but about 15 minutes in, it’s like the energy has left the room, and I still have lots of stuff to cover. It’s a weekly meeting and is supposed to last for an hour, but people just seem like they are going through the motions.”

“How would you rate the engagement level on a scale of 1-10?”

“Well, it starts at around a 6, but it doesn’t take long to drop to a 2,” Raphael replied.

“What do you think is the problem?”

“It’s like I am talking, yet losing control at the same time.”

“What does that tell you about control?”

Raphael was stumped. “Do you mean, whenever I am talking, I am losing control?”

“Maybe. Think about it this way. In any conversation, who is in control, the person asking questions, or the person responding to questions?”

Raphael was quicker on this one. “Well, that’s easy, the person asking the questions.”

“So, if you want more control, stop talking and ask more questions.” -TF

Sit in the Back

It was a big difference in Nathan’s meeting. Instead of barking out the quota numbers for daily production, he had assigned that task to Rachel. The team had responded.

“What else could you delegate during the meeting?” I asked.

“Well, when Rachel announced the quota number, the first questions were about raw materials and machine setups. So, I was thinking about asking Edward to get with Rachel before the meeting so he could report on the status of raw materials. And I was thinking about Billy, he is our line mechanic, to get with Rachel to plan the machine setups for the day. So he could report those in the meeting.”

“Sounds like an agenda is coming together for this daily meeting and you are having other people become responsible for each line item?”

Nathan laughed. “You know, I thought, as the manager, that I had to do all the talking in the meeting. I am beginning to think, maybe, I should just call the meeting to order and sit at the back of the room.”

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Big Difference

“So, what was the big difference?” I asked. Nathan had been getting pushback in his production meeting whenever he went over the schedule. Especially when he talked about the daily quota number for production.

“I assigned Rachel to announce the number,” Nathan replied. “It was the funniest thing. When I talk about production, people grouse and mumble. When Rachel described the quota number, people began to ask questions. Did we have enough materials on the floor and how many different setups would be required on the machine. It was like they wanted to do the work.”

“So, what did you learn?” I asked.

“I learned that I don’t have to do all the talking. I can delegate out important stuff. Instead of me telling people what to do, when they become involved, they actually step up and participate.”

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Assign It

“But, I still feel there is some tension in the meeting, especially when I start talking about quotas for the day and some of the production problems that need to be corrected,” Nathan explained.

“So, delegate it out,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“Look, Nathan. Where do the quota numbers come from?”

“Well, there is a Production Release report that gets posted at 5:00pm for the next day. That is the number that I go over in my morning meeting.”

“So, it is just a number that comes off of a report? And, you are the bad guy because you know the number and report it in the meeting?”

“Exactly,” nodded Nathan. “I feel like a slave driver, when it is just my job.”

“So, assign the Quota Number report to another team member. During your meeting, ask them to talk about the number from the Production Release report.” I could see Nathan pondering my proposal. “Who could you assign that to?” I asked.

“I could assign that to Rachel,” Nathan replied. I could see a sense of relief wash over his face.

“Let me know the difference in your meeting tomorrow.” -TF

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This Thinking is Work

“So, tell me how your meeting went,” I said.

Nathan was a bit cheery. “It was really different. We have never had a meeting like that.”

“What was different?”

“I only made that one simple change at the beginning. I started with that exercise at the beginning. Good News. I asked everyone in the group to share one piece of Good News from the previous week.” Nathan was finally smiling.

“And?” I asked.

“At first, some were having difficulty. You know, thinking of something positive. If I had asked for Negative News, that would have been easy. But Good News was a struggle.”

“So, what did you learn?”

Nathan was finally seeing some progress. “Thinking about something positive requires work, but it moves people in the right direction. Once they began to work, the rest of the meeting stayed with the same momentum. It’s funny, the only thing I did differently was the way I started the meeting.”

Our next Leadership class in Fort Lauderdale starts April 23. For more information, visit

Will I Sleep Through It?

“What are we here for?” I started the meeting. It’s always an interesting question. Most people come to meetings without thinking about its purpose. Will it be informational? Will it be interesting? Will I sleep through it? Will it be meaningful? Will we accomplish anything of significance?

Most people just go to meetings.

What was the last meeting you went to, where something significant was accomplished? What was different about that meeting? What are the most important elements to make a meeting effective? Post a comment. -TF

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The Intersection

Cheryl was impatient to get to her meeting. She knew how this get-together would be different. Her behavior would be the first to change. Instead of a one-way interaction, Cheryl planned to ask questions and listen.

“I know listening is important,” she said.

“It is the easiest thing to do and also the most difficult,” I prompted. “Tell me, what will you be listening for?”

“I will be listening for good ideas to solve this Quality Control issue,” Cheryl was quick to answer.

“That’s a good start, but the solution isn’t the hard part. Heck, they know the solution. The hard part is getting the solution executed. That’s where you have been getting push-back.”

Cheryl glanced at the ceiling, then at the table. “You’re right. The resistance has been implementing the inspection program. I will just have to try to understand their position better.”

“Cheryl, it’s more than listening for understanding. Understanding only gets you halfway there. You have to listen for discovery. You have to discover where their position intersects with your position. Only when you find that intersection, that common ground, can you begin a conversation to build the best solution. When you find that common ground, you will begin to build the trust necessary to gain the willing cooperation of your team.”

Cheryl lifted her pen to the paper on the table. She drew a line and wrote “the team.” She drew another line crossing and labeled it “me.” Where the lines intersected, she wrote “the starting place.”

We are hunkered down waiting for Ernesto to pass. Not too serious, but it was a good shake-out of our preparedness plans. We will be better prepared for the next storm. -TF

Who Has to Change First?

“So, what are you going to do differently?” I asked. Cheryl had just received some brutally honest feedback from her team. Rather than become defensive, she was taking it to heart, a really tough move for Cheryl.

“As much as I know that I have things figured out,” she said, “that doesn’t seem to hold water around here.” Cheryl was truly struggling. She knew her team needed to make some changes, but she knew she had to make some changes first.

“So, what are you going to do differently?” I repeated.

“It’s almost like I have to do everything differently. The worst part is, that I can look at a problem and immediately know what to do. But I am going to have to lead my team through the problem solving process to make any headway with them. It just takes so much time.”

“Cheryl, sometimes you have to slow down before you can go fast?”

“I know,” she replied.

“So, what are you going to do differently?”

“First, I am going to have to listen more and talk less.”

“Good. When is your next team meeting?”


“Let’s meet about a half hour before and talk about how that meeting is going to be different.” -TF

One Simple Discipline


“Purpose. The first step to having important meetings is to be crystal clear on the purpose for the meeting.” Phillip and I had been talking about meetings. Phillip was concerned that his Project Managers were having difficulty in what seemed basic stuff to him.

“We tell Project Managers that they need to have meetings, and then we wonder why their meetings fall apart. Bottom line is that most companies don’t train their supervisors and managers on how to conduct an effective meeting. They just expect it to happen, like magic.”

“So we need to start with purpose?” asked Phillip.

“Everything starts with purpose. Meetings run amuck when there is no purpose, or where people attending have different purposes. Until we get those purposes out on the table, our meeting is going to meander aimlessly.”

“How do we do that? Send an email out before the meeting?” pondered Phillip.

“Yes, it’s as simple as that. But think about it. How many meetings did you attend during the past month where there was no stated purpose and no agenda?”

Phillip didn’t have to think long. “You know, I don’t think I went to a single meeting last month where there was an agenda, much less, a stated purpose.”

“Now, I know some things managed to get done in those meetings, but they could have been much more effective. Do that one simple thing, and teach your PMs to do the same and you will see an improvement.” -TF

A Skill No One Teaches

“So, in addition to creating schedules and checklists, we should train our supervisors on how to run meetings?” Phillip was becoming a believer.

“Not just how to run a meeting, but how to run an effective meeting,” I responded. Phillip shook his head. He didn’t have to be briefed on the difference between meetings that were important and meetings that were a waste of time.

At the same time, he was uncomfortable. “You know, we do a pretty good job of training people on the technical stuff that we do, how we make things and how we deliver our services, but we don’t even come close when you talk about training on how to run meetings.”

“I know. Interesting, isn’t it? One of the most important things that a supervisor does and your company doesn’t spend any time teaching the management skill of how to run an effective meeting.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What do we need to do first?” asked Phillip.

“Tell you what. Meet me here tomorrow morning, same time. There are several different kinds of meetings. We will talk about the ones most important to you.” -TF