Upgrade your meeting skills! Turn your staff into self-organizing teams and free up time to focus on the really important stuff. Here’s how.
Have you read the One Minute Manager? It’s an excellent book. A one-hour read. Read it.
The book is a true classic. Ever since I read it ten years ago, I am obsessed with improving my management skills.
For those who are not familiar with the book, here is the core message. The One Minute Manager is the image of the ideal manager who lives by one simple principle.
“Take a minute: look at your goals, look at your performance, see if your behavior matches your goals.”
― Kenneth H. Blanchard, The One Minute Manager
The One Minute Manager gets his staff to perform exceptionally well by following three rules.
1.One Minute Goals
He sets One Minute Goals together with his staff, and makes sure they know what they are accountable for and what good performance looks like.
2. One Minute Praising
The One Minute Manager tries to catch the staff doing something right so he can give them a One Minute Praising.
3. One Minute Reprimand
If they have all the skills to do something right and they don’t, the One Minute Manager gives them a One Minute Reprimand.
One Minute? Really?!
It is a great concept! But I always wondered how to apply it in real life. Can you force someone into a 1-minute structure? Am I supposed to use a timer? Ridiculous!
I just knew it. There is something that the One Minute Manager wasn’t telling me. I always wondered what the manager did outside that ‘one minute’ to ensure he could effectively pass on instructions in such a short amount of time?
Surely, the One Minute Manager must have a strategy. How does he set goals? How does he structure team meetings to keep them as short as possible? How long did it take him to make the switch happen to One Minute Management? One month? One day? One minute?
Ten years ago, I started accepting the fact that I cannot apply these tools overnight. My team and me need to change our behavior. And we need to do so iteratively, because changing behavior is one of the hardest things in life. Your shrink is nodding now ;-)
“Effective managers,” he thought, “manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.”
― Kenneth H. Blanchard, The One Minute Manager
One Minute! Yes, really!
Ten years later, having attended and held countless meetings with that question in the back of my mind, I think I know how the One Minute Manager does it. We recently introduced the Weekly Speed Update. Every person shares his goals for the coming week in 1 minute.
To track if the meeting performance improved over time, I started to identify some key parameters. I discovered that there are multiple maturity stages teams go through as they become better at holding meetings. I called it the Meeting Maturity Model.
Want to know how you stack up against the real One Minute Manager? Find out how mature your meetings are now, and how you can make meetings shorter and more effective at the same time.
‘Making yourself redundant’ starts with effective meetings
The best managers are the ones that can make themselves “redundant”. The key to getting things done as a manager is to make other people do as much for you as possible. Or, let’s be a bit more realistic, not having to do other people’s job for them.
37% of CEOs are currently trying to improve their ‘sharing leadership/delegation skills’, but 35% think their delegation skills ‘still need development’. Getting other people to figure out priorities on their own account is just too much to ask.
Consequently, managers spend a big part of their day in meetings, identifying priorities for other people. Stats show that the average number of meetings a month is 62, and 99% of those take 30 minutes or longer. No wonder 47% now cite ‘too many meetings’ as the number 1 time waster at the office.
The key to becoming a One Minute Manager is transforming your meeting culture. The Meeting Maturity Model systematically indicates the characteristics of the different meeting maturity stages. Identify where you are now, and work your way up to the top of the ladder.
You know why they say it’s lonely at the top? Because there are so few meetings you have to attend…
The 4 Criteria of the Meeting Maturity Model
We focus on 4 simple criteria. Any manager can easily recognize them in daily life. On the basis of these criteria, meeting maturity can be measured. The 4 criteria are: frequency, attendance, duration, and topics.
How often are meetings held? How reliable is the timing? Are meeting held on a set time on a set day?
How many people attend the meeting? How likely is it that all required attendees are present? How many different (fractions of) teams attend?
How predictable is the duration? How long will meetings take, in total? How many minutes will individuals be allowed to speak?
Which topics will be discussed? Is there a ‘master of ceremony’? Is there an agenda to follow? Do attendees mention success, blockers, and milestones? Are there action items formulated afterward?
The 5 stages of the Meeting Maturity Model
Now it’s time to figure out how mature your team’s meeting-culture is. Below are the characteristics of every one of the 5 meeting maturity stages, ordered based on the 4 criteria. It’s time to get into the details of where you are now, and where you want to be.
- Frequency - Irregular and ad hoc.
- Duration - Anywhere between 5 minutes and ‘all day’. No set speaking time per person.
- Attendance - Based on last minute availability. Inevitably, some key figures won’t be able to attend.
- Topics - All (remotely relevant) matters are discussed. There is no agenda to follow. No action items are discussed.
- Frequency - Recurring while project runs.
- Duration - More than 60 minutes. No set speaking time per person.
- Attendance - Based on project availability
- Topics - All project related matters are discussed. There is an improvised, ad hoc agenda. Action items are briefly mentioned but not documented.
- Frequency - Recurring while program runs.
- Duration - More than 60 minutes. Desired speaking time per person loosely indicated.
- Attendance - Average attendance: > 70%. Limited continuity.
- Topics - Only matters on agenda are discussed. Action items are carefully formulated and documented.
- Frequency - Recurring every week.
- Duration - Less than 30 minutes in total. Less than 5 minutes per person.
- Attendance - Good attendance: > 80%.
- Topics - Attendees highlight selected topics themselves, and proactively mention successes and blockers. Adaptive but structured agenda. Action items are followed up on consistently.
- Frequency - Recurring every week, or even daily.
- Duration - Less than 15 minutes in total. Less than 1 minute per person.
- Attendance - Great attendance: > 90%. Members from other teams attend.
- Topics - Attendees highlight no more than one priority, and proactively mention success and blockers. Agile agenda. Action items executed weekly.
Ready to grow up?
Where does your team fit into this picture? Which of the meeting maturity stage descriptions sounds like any other day at the office for you?
Take these steps to get better at holding meetings …
- Find out which stage you are currently in
- Look at the next stage to discover your ‘meeting’ goals
- Repeat to gradually get better at holding meetings.
If you need more inspiration, read our article on 6 tiny meeting tweaks. Turn your weekly status meetings into energizing speed-dating sessions.
To get your team to determine their own priorities, they need to know how company goals relate to each other. The Boardview goal tree gives everybody the transparency they need to proactively align their efforts with others. So you don’t have to do it for them…