Ralf Weiser's Blog – Shake Up Your Snow Globe! ©

Stop doing, shake your globe, ponder, dream, start reaching your full potential – live on purpose and do it with a smile!

Archive for the tag “meetings”

4 touch points for more successful meetings

4 touch points for more successful meetings 

Which is more important: Consensus or consent? This is a question that should beg itself to anyone who attends one of many business meetings. Most often, people attempt to reach consensus. A lot of time is spent striving for the all but impossible consensus. Problem with that is that it is a close relative to compromise. I give a little, and you give a little, and voila we have reached a compromise and thus can reach consensus on an issue. The counterproductive result is neither party gets what they really wanted. Perhaps worse, the issue is so watered down that the initial intent is totally missed and the whole team loses.

Why spend the time and energy convincing the others that everyone needs to approve and also needs to like the final result?

  1. It is much better to make your point and see if it can get the majority supporting it. That is best done by the meeting facilitator who lists all the solutions to the issues at hand.
  2. This is followed by putting this list up on e.g. a whiteboard and letting everybody vote for their top three solutions. This way you will shrink down and perhaps consolidate your long list.
  3. Now instead of focusing on getting everybody to give a little to take a little, drive home the point being able to consent to an idea / concept.
  4. Consent is different as it only requires for everyone to be committed to moving ahead with whatever the team finally decides to do.

The fine but important line between consent and consensus is worth hours and oodles of frayed nerves none of which any leader-manager ought to jeopardize in regular business meetings. Don’t settle, but seek consent and commitment to the agreed upon goals. Get involved and make sure your designated meeting facilitator is on board with the concept.


Lucifer’s revenge – meetings

More than a dozen ideas to avoid the death by meeting syndrome Ralf a

Meetings. Sometimes I think the conference room is my office. How often do you feel that way, or have you been in more meetings than the workweek has hours?

Seriously, many meetings just keep on running on and on with little to nothing show for at the end. When folks get an even fuzzier picture at the end of the meeting than what they went in with, you will have some very unhappy campers to deal with sooner or later. Then there are the meetings that drone on for hours on end. Don’t folks know that the brain can only absorb what the bum can endure? Seriously, if you can’t get it done in 90 minutes than you had better be in a workshop and not a regular meeting.

It does not need to be this way. Preparation is the key word in making a difference. Have you ever painted anything like a room or piece of furniture? If so, you may appreciate when I say that +75% of the total work going into this is the prep work leading up to it. The actual painting job takes a fraction of time. This is no different with meeting prep work. Properly executed this can save you many a nerves and of course time, money and frustration. Please also see the meeting planner free for you to use in the download area. Even when you are only invited to meetings you should have a pre-flight check list helping you decide if you should attend and how you should prepare.

This list is for people invited to a meeting:

  1. Who called the meeting and why? Do you REALLY need to be there? You have options and I recommend you make good use of them. Just say No or ask for you to get the meeting minutes and action items later.
  2. How prepared do you need to be? Never go into any meeting without a plan of what you must or need to bring to the table. Know the agenda and your expected contributions. Sitting down and reading the meeting minutes from the last time as you slide into the conference room is NOT what you want to do.
  3. Is there an agenda? Is the meeting objective clearly identified? If not, please see point 1. DO NOT ATTEND
  4. How can you help the meeting organizer with the meeting make the meeting better? The list below provides a few tips that deal with the meeting room prep, etc. Please help your fellow team members make the meeting a success.
  5. Use some discipline. Try to listen to understand and not to respond. Bad ideas never sort themselves out quickly.
  6. If you must have the meeting volunteer for any open roles to fill. You will be remembered for setting a positive example. Added bonus: You get out of the meeting on time.
  7. If you must attend, arrive on time and encourage for the team to end on time. It’s a matter of respect.
  8. Speaking of respect, no chit chats with the neighbor and checking your computer and cell phone (leave that thing on silent, please!). Be present!
  9. When people start having side discussions or worse yet have fallen asleep you need to raise your hand and ask for a break. Time to stretch and re-group. These are clear signs the meeting should be over or see point 1.

This list for anyone who wants to set up a meeting:

  1. Sit on a mental rock and ponder why you need to have a meeting in the first place. If you can avoid it, do not have it. Have personal conversations instead and make good use of your capability walking the four corners of your business.
  2. Clarify what kind of a communication you want to have. Is it a communication for interpretation? Communication for clarity? Communication for action? Communication for exploration?
  3. Identify the goal of the meeting. What is the desired outcome?
  4. Define location, attendees, time scheduled to start and stop. Make sure to book your rooms well in advance and all the props that you need.
  5. Who should attend? Err on the minimalistic side. More than five people at a time make for really slow meetings. Pay attention who of your people are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Make sure everyone is being considered.
  6. When you start the meeting make sure to start on time and end on time. Neat trick starting on time is to make the last person to arrive at the meeting the scribe. You will have some hilarious antics going on when you do this, but it has proven extremely effective.
  7. Define the roles of facilitator, scribe, and time keeper. Time keeper, please take your job seriously. There is no time to tread lightly on this; make certain that the time limits are kept.
  8. Plan out the topics that will be discussed. Upon starting the meetings give every team member a chance adding topics, or of course eliminating any.
  9. Sometimes it may be necessary having side bar meetings leading up the meeting that you are planning. When the topic is too vague, scope creep set in, or there are too many people in the main meeting, prevent major headaches this way.
  10. Scribe: Keep copious notes. For the technical savvy folks amongst you, use a version of the Meeting Planner on the Download page in your MS One Note folder and share it with the team members.
  11. At the end of the meeting go over the captured action items. Make absolutely, positively certain to doing this. Identify the responsible person to deliver results and by when.
  12. End on time. If you have a pattern of going over all the time, have a few meetings standing up. Trust me it helps keeping a fast pace and not to start rambling through the meeting agenda. If you must go over one hour time then plan on a 90 max meeting time before walking around, and get a bit of fresh air.

Nothing is worse than having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. If need be, speak with you supervisor and take a break at no more than 90 minutes max meeting time.



3 motivation and attitude improvement rules that are still totally overlooked and underused

3 motivation and attitude improvement rules that are still totally overlooked and underused Ralf a

Today’s post relates to our thoughts and how they either will let us feel great and motivated, or just the opposite. A thought is just a thought and definitely not who you are. Cool thing is that if we take a deep breath and give our brains a quick mental break we can always manage our thoughts. So here are three basic thinking rules for your viewing pleasure.

  • Laugh at yourself once in a while.   It is what you do, not who you are.

At the beginning of my career I worked in customer service for 17 years. The first couple of years were very intimidating, when dissatisfied customers would call and simple let me have it. Often times, I felt personally threatened or at least attacked. As a result I would try defending my or the company’s position, which occasionally lead to the proverbial pouring oil into the fire scenario. By staying on the defensive side, the customer would think I did not care and thus give him even more to yell about. Which in turn, lead me to dig in even further. Quite a while back, the company I work for sent me to a customer service seminar. Amongst other things, the speaker taught us about the mental approach of separating what it is you do for living, from who you are as a human being. He suggested looking at what customers are really mad about. In almost 99% of the cases people are mad about everything else but you personally. He also recommended trying to look up, and start laughing at oneself. Sometimes, we get so entangled in our daily lives, that we take our oh-so-important problems way too seriously. Customers usually do not take well to taking yourself too serious during a telephone conversation, as they called to get their problems addressed, and not yours. I tried this theory out the very next day with amazing results. Regardless of how bad they sometimes vented staying focused on the customer’s issues, defused the once very polarized situation.


  • Rather be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Looking like a fool does not improve your attitude and motivation. This rule I picked up along the way of getting promoted all the way into management functions at work. With the added responsibilities, came a steady diet of meetings. Meetings have become a staple of my daily schedule. All these people gatherings have a profound common denominator: they are based on personal interaction. The part I was struggling with the most was listening to what was being said. I was listening to respond more than listening to understand. Unfortunately, proper listening skills do not get taught in high school or during college. It was also not part of the on the job training program. So in one-on-one as well as large group meetings, I used to jump to conclusions, rather than waiting for everyone to finish the points they were trying to make. This was a very foolish thing to do. In hindsight, I should have sat on a rock, and thought about my actions a lot earlier. Then one day, I reflected on a meeting that had gone badly. I asked myself what I could have done better. This is when I realized my habitual mistake, of interrupting other people’s conversations. Changing this habit was tough but worth the effort. I look foolish a lot less often nowadays.


  • Choose your attitude! Be there! Play! Make their day!

The phrases above are part of a rule that I keep honing and refining throughout my life. They key to success in life is your own motivation and morale, as well as that of i.e. your family, friends, peers and people that you serve.   Quite a while back, I was watching a motivational and morale boosting tape called “Fish”. It struck a chord with me, as I finally was able to express in short terms, where motivation comes from. To me it always starts with you and thus with me. Choose your attitude well after you get up in the morning. This is a simple yet effective mind game; it really is your choice to either feel upbeat, or be moping around all day. Usually, everyone will most likely be impacted by, if not mirror, your attitude. Sounds like a no-brainer to me, right? Well, it is indeed tough and easier said than done. “Be there” is all about paying attention, while someone is trying to communicate with you. Have you ever done it? It sounds simpler than it is. After all, most of our interactions are caused by interruptions from people who just want a “minute” of your time. It is much simpler to half listen and to keep on going with whatever you may be doing at the time. But it shows no or little respect to your counterpart. But respect is what every one of us craves. Also, respect is a keystone of keeping up a high spirit. So give them what they need, without dilution. “Play” deals with having fun during the day and committing acts of random kindness. Jokes, even pranks or practical jokes go a long way to loosen up our work. “Make their day” is sprinkling a dash of servant leadership around you. Do things no one expects you to do. Walk in someone else’s shoes for a while; realize how tough her or his job is. It really helps staying focused on what is important in life.

One of my favorite and local leadership people I follow by reading his books and Tweets is Pat Croce. He was the owner of Philly’s own 76ers and also is a great businessman. Check out his book I Feel Great and You Will Too!: An Inspiring Journey of Success with Practical Tips on How to Score Big in Life. You will find a smattering of other great nuggets of advice improving your motivation and attitude. Here are two great video clips featuring him about motivation and staying positive. Discover Pat on Motivation and Attitude.


Time is running out for information hoarders

Time is running out for information hoarders Ralf a

Hoarding information used to mean job security. Knowledge and experience is important information that when hoarded and carefully strategically distributed can indeed make you the “go-to” person. Question is for how long this can continue. It is most certainly not forever.

Toxic work places are a thriving and fertile ground for information hoarders. That is not the case at places that foster a safe work environment with plenty of transparency. More and more organizations buy into this collaborative management style. Millennials, who often get a bad rap as being difficult employees (undeservedly so, but that is worth another post), are actually becoming more and more picture children for sharing. We can learn so much from them as they have learned early on that life and work is about sharing what you know and own.

Sharing is the new hoarding: When you share what you know and you help train others it helps elevate the people you train, it helps elevate the organization, and it helps elevate you. Everyone can be a winner in this environment. It trims out a lot of waste and friction within an organization. Heaven forbid, it is actually fun to work this way! Imagine that!

This past weekend I attended my first “unconference” held at the University of Pennsylvania. 30 people coming from industry, academia, students, faculty, business leaders, and in general from all walks of life came together sharing one thing: their love for organizational dynamics. What made it an unconference was that the agenda was empty other than having 3 breakout session with 3 groups each. The topics for presentations or discussions had to be volunteered by the attendees. And the attendees facilitated the 9 group sessions that ensued. The amount and wealth of knowledge shared that morning was almost overwhelming. At the end of the event everyone agreed that it would be great if there could be repeat events. This is sharing at its best.

Of course there are limitations to information sharing. There are trade secrets, patents, competitive advantages, etc that would dictate the type and amount of sharing that can occur. Within those boundaries though in the departmental setting of companies – especially smaller ones – sharing of knowledge will outperform organizations who foster, or blissfully ignore their toxic information hoarder peers and competitors.


Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: