This really happened to a colleague. I am willing to wager that it has also happened to you or someone you know…
A newly hired senior vice president called a staff meeting to update her team on revisions to a mission-critical standard operating procedure (SOP) affecting the group’s work. A few weeks later, she confided her frustration with her staff to her executive coach: “I don’t get this place! Two weeks ago, I brought the whole team together to share this update. No one wrote a thing down or even brought a pen and pad. No one asked any questions either—I’m not even sure they were listening to me. And then, this morning, one of them sent a group email saying the process that had been in place—the one I updated them on—no longer works and needs to be revised. To make matters worse, two staff replied in agreement saying they experienced the same thing. I feel like I might lose my mind.”
In response, her coach asked a series of questions. Were the new work expectations specifically stated? “Well, no, but I literally told them how the SOP changed.” Did you tell them the purpose of the meeting in advance and ask them to arrive prepared to take notes on how their duties would be shifting? “Should I need to tell professionals to bring a pad and pen—to a meeting? And, being their boss, do I have to justify a reason for calling a meeting?” Did you send out a written summary of the meeting? “Well, no, but I told them all exactly how the SOP changed—and it seems no one put it together that I needed them to actually implement this change. Do I need to spoon-feed them everything?”
From the coach’s perspective the disconnect was obvious: The team did not follow up on implementing the SOP—because they weren’t asked to. It is a story that plays out time and again. Like a formulaic movie script, the details change, but the story remains the same. If you are re-living this story like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, break the pattern with the Expectations component of the PLANNER framework for meetings.
You can reasonably have the following expectations of your meeting participants—but only if you communicate them!
Bottom line: Although you may not be wrong in answering yes to any of those questions, you would be wrong to believe that expected behaviors happen on their own. Meeting-fatigued individuals with competing demands for their time typically only rise to the standards explicitly required of them. If you don’t express your expectations, don’t be surprised when they are not met.
Need the rest of the PLANNER framework to knock your meeting "outta the park"? Chapter One of Don’t Waste My Time: Expert Secrets for Meetings that Inspire, Engage and Get Results won't waste yours.
©2019 Kimberly Devlin, All rights reserved