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Stop meetings!

June 30, 2016 – by Otie Hauser &samhoud consultancy

We certainly see it happening around us and are often also consumed by drawn-out meetings. More and more items are added to the agenda. We bring each other up to speed during the ‘Any Other Business’ agenda item and share information about the status quo. At the end of the meeting, when participants’ energy levels have hit at rock bottom, everyone is pleased to really ‘get to work’. What have we inflicted upon ourselves with this culture of meetings? And hasn’t the time come to put an end to this?

Over the past few years we have helped numerous organisations and their managers to successfully reverse this meeting culture. Some of the effects thereof are: overall meeting times have been halved, greater employee engagement and ownership have been achieved, focused discussions centred around improvement are conducted between departments, and last but not least, an average productivity increase of around 15% has been realised. Here are five tips for getting started.

Tip 1 – Meet no longer than 30 minutes at least once a week

With a short-cycle focus, your team can observe closely and react rapidly. Agreed on actions are implemented immediately, progress is monitored properly, and the team can be adjusted effectively. This stimulates engagement because people see and experience that follow-up is actually occurring.

Tip 2 – Stand instead of sit, introduce the ‘stand-up’

Stand-up meetings are not only healthy, but also require an active approach among all participants, which makes the group dynamic more effective and specific. Furthermore, it offers greater opportunities for non-verbal communication. According to a study conducted by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), standing already reduces the duration of a meeting by a third.

Tip 3 – Jointly prepare the stand-up as a team

As a leader, you are responsible for leading your team. You can do this by giving direction to your team with clear goals based on the organisation’s annual plan and strategy, and by also giving your team room to contribute. The leader makes everyone within the team responsible for attaining goals by translating these to an individual level. This fosters ownership within the team.

Tip 4 – Only handle matters that can be influenced by the team

Focus on indicators that the team can personally influence. Focussing on customer satisfaction scores alone has no effect. Focus on handle or throughput time and doing things first time right have an effect. These indicators can be directly influenced by the team and as a result it has great impact on customer satisfaction. This ensures that stand-up meetings take precedence over the immediate work of the team, and that commitment is attained.

Tip 5 – Visualise goals and results

Excel spreadsheets with full columns and rows can be simplified using graphs, colours and symbols. By visualising the results and progress of goals, progress can be interpreted at a glance and appropriate action can be undertaken. Limit your team’s goals to a maximum of 6 KPIs, otherwise you will no longer see the wood for the trees.

These 5 tips are merely a small selection from our short-cycle approach via Operational and Visual Management. The organisation’s vision, strategy and annual plans are pivotal in the implementation of Operational and Visual Management. It must be a clear and coherent whole. Strategic and operational goals are translated into shorter-term goals, which apply specifically to that team. Goals and performance are visually displayed on a performance board, enabling the team to conduct targeted performance discussions. These daily and weekly stand-up meetings are interactive, participatory and last no longer than 30 minutes.

Operational and Visual Management is an effective method, which:

  • brings the vision and strategy within an organisation to life;
  • makes short-term goals for a team and individual transparent;
  • mutually stimulates engagement and learning capacity;
  • improves mutual and hierarchical communication;
  • creates focus to improve performance by approximately 15% .
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