I wasted hours of the team’s time on meetings. Yes, countless hours. Part of my reconciliation is to share what I’ve learned from leading a hungry team of hustlers who love long hours, big challenges, and uninterrupted blocks of time to jam through projects focused on building the best disaster response organization in the world. Here are some candid lessons:
When we embrace the suck, and front load it all in one day, the rest of the week is awesome. We restrict meetings to Monday and free up the rest of our week to get shit done. We’ll make time for those who outrank us during the week…all others; we’ll see you Monday.
Release the Hounds.
Trust the strength of the team. When you have go-getters, they’ll pull you in when you’re needed; otherwise, GTFO of their way. Check out a poignant description in ‘…the strength of the grey.’ When I liberated my team’s time, their productivity took off like a rocket sled on rails. As I was inundated with results and completed projects, ‘update’ meetings became unnecessary because the results were self-evident.
Meetings (if you absolutely must have them) should be for everyone.
Not just for the senior leader. Meetings (renamed huddles to encourage brevity) should be team-focused, short, and purposeful. In the past, our meetings were designed to provide updates and were based on time, not conditions. These meetings were sublimely inefficient and inevitably we stared at our computers instead of working through an actual problem. We made the switch to decision-driven huddles or release briefs (what we would have called a mission brief in the military). If the conduct of the gathering can’t hold the team’s attention – we’re doing something wrong. As our teammate Brian says, “Less is best.”
The ultimate duty of a leader. As we block out distractions and offer clear guidance, we free up time to actually work and finish tasks on time and on target. Aggressively and unwaveringly shield the team from the good idea fairies and the demons of mission creep.
Occasionally, we will need to have the whole family together to share extensive critical updates for a specific purpose. The ancillary benefit of this meeting is that it concludes with a heightened understanding that our actions underpin thousands of our fellow go-getters…and that we’re all grey.
Let’s go to work.
More insights from Team Rubicon’s Pat Ross can be found on Medium.