Meetings to discuss future meetings. Meetings to address issues that never get solved. Meetings that you just get through but dread. Meetings that take away from productivity. Meetings that cause more disjointed relationships, miscommunication, frustration, and fuel for gossip around the water cooler. Meetings that accomplish nothing. Meetings where the same people dominate the conversation. Meetings where questions that don’t fit into the topic or apply to everyone take over.
Stop. Having. Meetings.
One of the things I talk about frequently at workshops is turning challenges into opportunity. Teammates, Peers, Leaders and groups all need to come together to reach their ultimate vision and become great, but simply sticking people in a room and saying GO on an issue isn’t enough to build grit, action plans, excitement, and ultimately the progress you are seeking when you sent out that meeting invite.
Here are some ideas on turning your meetings into something more productive that not only fuels problem solving, but also drives unity, contribution, optimism and a positive culture.
Before beginning the process of turning a challenge into an opportunity, take a minute to remember what your group, organization, team stands for. The core belief that will guide decisions in where the future is and the path to getting there. Renew the commitment to stay positive about the future even if currently frustration, anxiety, and resentment are threatening to set in. This is an opportunity to not only become great, but to hit the reset, refresh, recommitment button.
Instead of correcting obstacles and roadblocks to get you back to where you were before the problem, decide that the obstacle is actually there to push you to become BETTER than before. This challenge is guiding you out of your coasting comfort zone and it’s a chance to grow. In other words, see this challenge as your signal to find opportunities that are in your team’s best interest for a great future. Gratitude in difficult times often drives greatness. It can change anxiety about the current pressure to fix things into excitement about what positive changes are ahead. Growth is painful sometimes, but also so rewarding! It drives progress, but also helps create unity to overcome, the ability to test yourselves and see what you can accomplish, and to bring people together for a common goal. Obstacles are like game day. They test you, and everyone has a chance to bring their best performance and best attributes to see what you are all capable of doing when you come together in top form.
Stop obsessing, complaining, and talking about the problem. I’ve tested many groups by challenging them in a short time to come up with a common issue and then to come up with solutions. The majority of the groups ran out of time still discussing the problem. That’s because it’s easy to talk about what’s going wrong and to feel emotionally connected to the problem. People sharing a common complaint often find connection in ruminating together about their shared misery. Unfortunately, focusing on the problem rarely solves anything and creates an atmosphere where people tend to look to negativity to come together – not a great recipe for grit or progress. What can you do instead? Use the power of 3. Name the problem, define it in less than three sentences. Get this done in 3 minutes or less. Write it down and then there is no more discussion of the problem. Set a rule that no one can restate the problem in another way, they can only add additional information and only if it’s important enough to be added in those three sentences.
Look to the future. After the problem is defined, it doesn’t need to be discussed anymore, or hashed out with examples and personal stories of wrong doing or suffering. It’s time to look to the future. In a perfect world, what could this look like. Describe it, and write down bullet points. Don’t get hung up on possible or impossible, just describe how it could look if everything came together.
Get realistic. List the variables that would have to occur to make this future a reality. Don’t focus on what you can’t accomplish. Circle the ones that you have control over, that you can implement right away and those that you can implement over time.
Make a plan of action. What’s the first step to moving towards this future? Who has the ability to make that action happen (person? Team of people? Utilize your teammates strengths)
Use sticky notes to put those actions up on a board. Each action gets a sticky note, put them in order. Assign actions to groups or people. Create an initial time frame and a check in point. Make sure everyone is clear on their role and what to do if they get stuck.
Don’t schedule meetings. Schedule opportunities. Have an opportunity instead of a meeting on Monday morning. Grab that week with enthusiasm about tackling things that will drive your group to be better than ever and don’t waste time with negativity or complaining. Get right to the solution, dreaming big about an incredible future, and then moving on an action plan that you designed together!
Every struggle is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. When it feels like you are going backwards away from your goals, remember the arrow. The arrow must be pulled back to build all the energy in it’s potential and shoot forward. When you are being pulled back, make sure you and your teammates are focused ahead on where you will fly when you release all that potential to greatness.