Quick wins can be a real motivation to hang in there and keep on going. There are many opportunities for quick wins. Let’s examine two of them: meetings and decisions.
1. Professionalizing meetings
According to a survey by Harris Poll, employees waste an average 4.5 hours per week attending meetings that are irrelevant for them. Findings by Virginia Tech Crilion Research Institute are even more radical: Meeting participants display lower intelligence levels after a meeting than before. Changing your approach to meetings is clearly a quick win: You’ll create more time and intelligence for solving tasks that are truly relevant for your company’s success.
- Radically question meetings
Which meetings are actually necessary? Which ones have just become an established tradition or even a necessary evil? Is there a more effective alternative to solve the issue at hand?
- Define meeting type
What is the purpose of the meeting? To provide information, make decisions or find new ideas? Defining the type of meeting will help you decide who should be included. Tell participants what their role in the meeting will be. Will they be making the decision, providing input or just listening? Clarifying these roles only later during the meeting can lead to disappointed expectations and hamper the success of your meeting.
- Formulate a clear meeting goal
Based on the type of meeting, you should define a clear goal. What should be achieved by the end of the meeting? How will participants know that they have actually reached the goal? The meeting invite should clearly state the goal and purpose of the meeting.
- Agenda: As much as necessary. As little as possible.
To prepare for a meeting, participants will need to receive information ahead of time. However, an over-detailed agenda can be compromising. Try to work with a flying agenda: Set a clear goal, but let participants define the path during the actual meeting. Some points on your agenda may become superfluous and will be dropped. Other points might be added if they support the meeting goal.
- Agree on clear rules
Smartphones, tablets and laptops will most likely not be on your “guest list”. Yet, they are part of the meeting game. Define clear rules: maximum focus and efficiency, no distractions. If participants end up pursuing different activities during the meeting, ask them to leave. This may seem harsh at first and requires courage, but it will transform your meeting discipline.
- Define roles
Many meetings just “evolve”. No clear roles have been assigned. Generally, the person that called the meeting tends to host it. Hosts often lack the knowledge and awareness required to successfully manage a meeting. It might be more efficient and effective to assign the host role to a different participant. Hosting a meeting requires certain methods, which can be learned relatively easily with some training and practice. This will radically improve the commitment to the meeting process as well as the outcome. Having to host a meeting for a colleague can actually create a strong sense of obligation.
- Apply effective methods
Many meetings have a rather arbitrary structure. The loudest speaks up. The most talkative gets all the attention. Hijackers use meeting to promote their own issues. This may not be in the best interest of the meeting goal. There might be an introverted participant that remains unheard but would have something important to say. Use effective methods to manage the social as well as the content-related processes of your meetings. Methods like Check-In, Check-Out,Safe Communication and Lean Coffee will help make your meetings a success.
2. Managing decisions
Managers make decisions. That’s what we learn in classic management training. That’s what we expect managers to do. Ask the people in your company! Most likely, you’ll hear something along the lines of: “Decisions take way too long.” Slow decisions have become an issue for most companies. Many have passed the tipping point, which means that changes are actually occurring faster than decisions can be made. Companies are entering the so-called organizational burnout zone. Time to tackle the problem! This is clearly an opportunity for a quick win.
- Decisions should be made at the level where the information is.
Managers must not create bottlenecks. Manage your decisions proactively! Start by asking: Who should be making which decisions? A decision board may serve as a useful tool to categorize your decisions: management decisions, mutual decisions between managers and their teams, team decisions and decisions by individual employees. Now examine where the information required to make the respective decision lies. That’s where the decision should be made. A decision board clearly visualizes all spheres of decision-making.
- Establish decision-making competence
Making decisions requires training and practice. Familiarize your team with the decision-making framework and the various decision-making methods. This is especially true for team decisions. They require precisely defined processes and tools. Systemic Consensus, Consent and Fist of Five are but a few examples for decision-making instruments. It’s worth studying them. Your motto should be: first decide how to decide.
- Don’t just dash out into the playing field.
Team decisions, that is decisions made by teams without you, should remain with the team. Resist the impulse to take over. Instead, ensure that your team gets support if needed. Consider yourself a coach, not a key player rushing out into the field.
- Persevere and adapt
Turn your decision management into an adaptive system. Regular retrospection will ensure continuous adaptation to the current conditions. These three questions can help: What’s going well? Where are we struggling? What do we want to change? This will further improve the decision-making skills of your team and the quality of their decisions. For you as a manager, it will create more room for strategic and future-oriented issues.
From quick wins to sustainable success
Effectively managing your meetings and decisions will quickly produce visible results. If things don’t work out right away, be patient. Any transition requires time and practice. Try not to take steps that are too big for you and your team. Quick wins work best if implemented step by step. Celebrate your quick wins! Even the small ones. You will be rewarded with extra time and better quality. This will be an incentive to achieve even more.