If you're a sales manager - or if you manage just about any kind of team - you may be feeling, at best, ambivalent about your regular meetings. At best they accomplish soft goals like "making sure everyone is on the same page" or "running through the numbers." At their worst - and all too frequently they are - you feel like the comic on stage tapping the microphone and asking "Is this thing on?"
Let's face it: by default these meetings are often awkward and painful. Instead of fostering decision making, motivation and action, they end up being a weekly chore for you and your unlucky team members at the conference table or on the other end of the webcam or conference line.
It doesn't have to be this way. Here's a short checklist of ideas to help you go from suck to successful.
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Don't use the meeting as a data delivery vehicle. If you can deliver facts, numbers, research in writing (either in advance of, or instead of at) the meeting, then do it. Telling everyone what they can otherwise read is a waste of time and only muddies the facts.
Set your agenda using verbs. Meetings should be where you do stuff. Decide, practice, troubleshoot, role-play, question. Program your meetings as if you were going to have to sell your team on attending.
Cut the meeting time by 50% and the electronics usage by 100%. You'll be amazed how motivated and productive people can be when their phones are sitting in a box in the middle of the table. You ambling hour long meeting just turned into a 30 minute gem.
Share your own questions with the team. "Here are the three issues I'm grappling with that I'd like your help resolving" is a great meeting opener. As you're dispensing answers, your team is your audience. Engaged in your quest for answers, they are your army.
Celebrate Interim Victories. Add a modest amount of recognition to every meeting. But don't just recognize success; note the high quality actions - a breakthrough in contact, a compelling idea that opens a door with a client, a well-prepared meeting. You orient and motivate your team around excellence, which nourishes and sustains.
Program 10 minutes of inspiration. If like me you belong to the Church of TED, you know that inspiring talks and ideas are everywhere. Instead of just routing a TED Talk or a blog post, share ten minutes of it with your group in person and discuss it.
Much of this won't feel natural at first. Leadership never does.
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