We all strive to achieve breakthrough or “bigger” gains when involved in Continuous Improvement, and a basic fact of accomplishing this is to pursue cross-organizational improvements.
However, these efforts typically involve more people, and this size factor alone can make projects more difficult to execute.
Consider that the larger the group, the more effort is required to ensure that good working relationships develop among the team members. Scheduling meetings becomes more difficult, and individuals may take less responsibility because with a large group it is easier to assume someone else will pick up the slack. There is often a limited window in which people are available, and the more people who must participate, the more constraints the project leader must schedule within.
Here are a few recommendations on how team leaders can minimize these “size-related” difficulties :
- Make sure each participant has a clearly defined role and that everyone is clear about why each participant is needed.
- Develop (and continue to refer back to) a clear charter and mandate from senior management
- Develop ground rules about how to handle absences in a way that ensures the project continues forward. Will substitutes be used? Who can substitute and how will the team make sure that a substitute will know what is expected of them?
- Set up firm meeting times and locations at the start of the project.
- Publish minutes so that everyone is clear about what was decided and who has what action item.
- Publish agendas so that everyone knows what is expected to happen at each meeting. Send reminders to make sure that action items are ready when planned.
- Involve a facilitator to make sure that everyone provides input and that discussions stay on topic. Projects without a good facilitator will lose focus.
- Develop concrete time lines and scope, and “chunk the work.” Breaking the work into specific deliverables helps to manage the size and complexity of cross-organizational improvements.
Completing our series about running the most effective project team teleconferences, we now focus on the best ways to end each session.
At the end of many teleconferences participants simply hang-up the phone without participating in a formal wrap-up. The meeting leader must be aware of the time and should begin a formal wrap-up a few minutes prior to the meeting’s scheduled conclusion.
Here are five best practices for doing so:
- End with the beginning – i.e., restate the meeting’s purpose and begin to draw conclusions
- Use shorter statements and closed-ended questions to keep everyone involved
- Clearly assign tasks, responsibilities and next steps to individuals and get their agreement with respect to understanding and ownership — who will do what… where… and when?
- Debrief the session by seeking input from participants. You might consider giving participants one minute to write-down a brief summary of “take-aways,” did-wells and do-betters, and then ask for a brief summary from each; or you might randomly pose final questions to each participant relative to their assessment of the session and understanding of next steps.
- Acknowledge good participation and thank the group
Once the session is over there is, of course, still one more key responsibility for the meeting leader: follow-through. Here are a few thoughts that might help:
- Distribute a meeting recap
- Proactively contact participants who were most involved during the session to reaffirm the value of their input, to gather input for upcoming sessions and to promote ongoing participation.
- Proactively contact participants who were assigned or volunteered to complete tasks – measure progress or offer support; send the implied message that you care and that the tasks are important by sending a progress report to all participants prior to the next meeting
- Begin preparing the next meeting
As Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung so famously said, “You are what you do… not what you say you will do!