Tag Archives | teams


My colleague and I recently came out of a workshop in one of the companies we work with just over the moon. We had observed in action real empowerment and it was a delight.

There were a group of team leaders who were asked to state what they wanted to do to improve their area, and what they needed to achieve it. There were several senior managers present, and all of them without exception validated the team leaders’ statements of intent, encouraged them to look at what they could do, and agreed to back them if they needed it.

The team leaders were clear about what would make a difference, knew what needed to be done, and had thought about how to approach it.

It was a room full of people working together like grown-up’s and it was significant in the growth of that company.

This is not something that happens out of the blue. This company has been working with us on the way its leaders lead, the way people are kept informed and involved, the approach they take to change, and the way people are motivated to step up and take an active part in what happens.

It takes a while to get this stuff into the muscle of both the leaders and those who work with them. We are talking about changing people’s beliefs about how people work effectively, what being the leader means in practice, how much control is needed and what people are capable of.

The first step is to get intellectual acceptance, and that can take a while. But more important than that, is getting people to buy into it at a heart level, and that requires different evidence. It is a gradual process of continuing to encourage people to try things out, to have another go, to be straight with each other, and to notice where it works rather than where it is not yet taking hold.

We are delighted to have been able to help create the environment where genuine empowerment is beginning to be the norm, and honour those leaders who have had the courage to step out and make it happen, keeping going until the fruits begin to show.

If you want your people to be genuinely empowered, don’t give up! The persistence pays off.


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I have struggled over the years to get team meetings to work well.  There have always been some inherent conflicts I have never really managed to balance.  Whether to allow the conversation to flow freely or to keep strictly to time, when I knew that digressions would often lead to moments of inspiration.  How to keep the whole team interested, when I was keen to understand how each of my team were doing.  Over the years, I tended to vary the format, as it became stale, or as the excuses for non-attendance grew.  Yet, the “right formula” remained elusive.

When I think about the best meetings I have had, as opposed to analysing what’s going wrong, I get a different picture.  In these meetings, people are engaged; the conversation flows and laughter can be heard.  I realise that it is not about having a repeatable formula.  It is about team members feeling engaged as a true member of a real team.  The “chemistry” happens not due to a formula, but when they have been working on something that interests him or her and when they feel their contribution has been useful and valued.

Those meetings finish naturally, not when the chairman says so.  People leave invigorated and refreshed, not relieved or depressed.  The team are re-united and strong again.  The buzz of the meeting often continues into the corridors and onwards to the vending machine.

I have also come to realise that I always had my interests at the front of my mind.  I needed to understand what my managers were doing, what issues they had, where they needed my help or the help of others.  On reflection, they should have been called “my meetings” not “team meetings”, as they were really there to ensure I felt fully informed and in control.

How different it could have been if I really trusted them to do their jobs and used the team meetings as a way of harnessing their collective skills and energies.  So, if you run team meetings in a conventional way and they feel somewhat stale or sterile, this month’s workshop is to encourage you to think differently about them – to make them truly “team meetings”.

Ask yourself whether you are using team meetings for your own ends e.g. as a means of keeping you better informed or for exercising control.  If so, are there other ways of achieving this (as you are not using people’s time effectively!) e.g. making better use of one-to-one meetings.

  1. Choose a single agenda item where you could usefully use the team to collectively resolve.  Ideally choose something where everyone has some level of personal interest in the outcome.
  2. If possible, use an experienced facilitator to guide the meeting, capturing key points.  This allows you, as team leader, to contribute alongside others, rather than to direct the discussions.
  3. Step back and enjoy the interaction and energy as the team starts to work together, resisting the tendency to take control or act as timekeeper.
  4. Recognise when the energy level naturally subsides, resisting the temptation to complete the task, but allowing it to come a useful resting place.  Then spend a little time reviewing where you are, what needs to be done next and agree a time for getting together again.

I tend to measure the effectiveness of such meetings by the amount of laughter heard and by how easily people can magically find space in their diaries when they are looking forward to something!

We have been following this approach in our team meetings at Meta, when we realised a few months ago we were falling into the “formula trap”.  We have had some inspired sessions and our meetings are far more enjoyable.  They now feel like proper “team meetings”.

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