How to make team meetings more effective

How to make team meetings more effective_John Raftery blogIn this part of John Raftery’s series on visual management he addresses the problem of team meetings that lack purpose, and have little effect on performance. Due to a lack of delegation and accountability meetings will often drift off the agenda, with team members no better off after the meeting than they were before it. What can managers do to correct this? Here John explains how to make team meetings more effective, and how a simple visual aid like a Gantt Chart can transform meetings.

Team leaders must track performance

‘What companies need are not meetings for meetings sake. Meetings do have a bad name and the reason they have a bad name is because they go on too long and tend to go off track. People often come in ill-prepared for the meeting, then minutes are taken and issued out. People don’t look at those minutes until just before the next meeting takes place, so nobody really takes any action. The meetings just go on and on indefinitely, without really achieving anything. There is no tracking mechanism to see how effective the meetings are.

Visual Management

The simplest and most effective way to make meetings useful and efficient is, once again, to introduce the concept of visual management. If you were to do a Google search on work plans you will probably see lots of different examples of plans which are basically Gantt Charts. Instead of issuing minutes to the team after a meeting, all you need to do is take your weekly or monthly meeting and divide it up into 4 or 5 core areas.

Creating accountability

Under each of those core areas you will have different lines of action in the left hand column. The next column will show who the owners of the lines of action are, in other words who’s responsible for implementing those actions. Then divide up the right hand side of the page with a timeline of 12 months or 52 weeks. There you track the activities by colour coding them using green, orange and red. Green indicating actions completed successfully within the timeline, orange indicating actions delayed or postponed and red indicating actions incomplete within the timeline.

How to make team meetings more effective_visual managementYou can then print this Gantt chart out on an A3 sheet of paper, and this can act as a very effective tool in managing team meetings. Not only does it show what people should be working on and what’s coming up next, it also helps you to track the things you have achieved over the year. As more and more items are shaded green, you get a good overall picture of the progress that’s being made. It’s a very simple but effective tool that gets away from the standard process of meetings that can often drift off course, and where no real progress reporting gets done.’

John Raftery is a business advisor and executive coach at LEAP.

Interview by Des Kirby
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Successful Teams Use Visual Management

What is Visual Management?

Successful teams use visual management_John RafteryHow do you go about developing a visual management system within your business? In our continuing series of visual management training articles, John Raftery delves deeper into the process of visual mapping. Here he discusses how management teams can use visual tools to help them display company goals and the actions that underpin them. Visual aids such as Gantt charts and bar graphs keep management teams focused on strategy and accountable for results.

Visual Strategy

‘I work with management teams and generally what we start with is getting the top 3 – 5 goals of the company articulated. Then under each of those goals we would discuss the strategies needed in order to achieve those goals. The strategies then have to be turned into clear lines of action. If you can imagine a large whiteboard or notice board that has lines of action, as in the form of a Gantt Chart. On the left hand side you have the lines of action, in other words the actions that need to be taken in order to achieve the top level goals. The next column will list the owners of those actions, in other words the people responsible for implementing the agreed actions.

Tracking Activities

There may also be a timeline that could be divided up into 52 weeks or 12 months or whatever is appropriate for that particular team. The chart will show when the various actions are going to occur, and you can flag the actions with a colour coded ‘traffic light’ system. Green means that the action is on target, orange indicates that the action is in difficulty or has been delayed or is still in progress, and red flags indicate the action has not been completed within the time frame agreed.

Gantt Chart_successful teams use visual management

Creating Accountability

This is a very simple but clear mechanism that allows the team to see clearly what activities are taking place within the company, who’s doing what and what progress is being made. The information is displayed on one large whiteboard, and alongside this you can display key performance indicators (KPI) in the form of bar graphs which will indicate how well your lines of action are affecting the performance of the business. Tracking these KPIs is crucial for identifying which lines of action are working and which ones need adjusting.’

 Are you using visual management methods in your business? How are they effecting your business operations? Leave a comment in the box below. Thanks.

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