Recently I was working with four directors on how to strengthen the performance of their respective teams. One of the biggest challenges these leaders face is managing constant ad hoc conversations with their team members. Meanwhile, their teams constantly claim that they don’t get enough coaching and support when they need it most. It was time for us to re-think excellent leadership communication.

In this session, we worked to design a highly effective management communication process. Did you know you can do a process map to understand where management communications break down? This process we designed consisted of the way in which they would lead their weekly one on one calls, the way in which they would lead their team meetings, and it also set the structure for when and how they would coach their team to overcome challenges and stay accountable to critical corporate goals.

Every time I get into this type of session, I realize that even the best leaders get into bad habits of firefighting instead of proactively managing. And without discipline, the best leaders accidentally let structured meeting conversations veer aimlessly off topic in the effort to try to cram too many things into each discussion.

3 ways to improve your meetings this week:

  • Set a short but firm schedule. Set up your weekly, bi-weekly or monthly management communication calls and make them an absolute critical priority. Set them at a time that is easiest for everyone to attend – i.e. 10:00 a.m. Monday morning might be better than 8:30 a.m. knowing the woes of traffic and pressure parents face with getting children off to school. The mission is to have 100% of the team there apart from sick and vacation days. And make them short; 20 minutes or 30 minutes max. By setting a little bit less time than you think might be required will enough everyone to stay highly focused and efficient.
  • Teach everyone a simple report-out process. Teach your team members how to report out at your management team meeting. Be specific in how you want them to communicate information in a concise and efficient manner. Each team member will interpret what needs to be shared differently which an often make management meetings incredibly inefficient. My favorite approach often includes reporting on what happened last week, then reporting on what’s on the schedule for the week ahead and finally what obstacles are standing in your way to delivering against your metrics.
  • Schedule deeper discussions for off-line conversation. By keeping your weekly meetings short and concise, you can listen for what other conversations need to be scheduled this week to go deeper into solving issues or coaching performance. Make the purpose of your team meeting to identify and schedule those deep discussions as opposed to having those conversations in an ad hoc manner in the middle of the meeting.

One of the most critical thing leaders do is communicate. But it’s not just one-time communication that drives excellent management; it’s how your team communicates with you repeatedly week after week that truly creates a communication process and drives fantastic results.

What are your biggest challenges when communicating with your team? We want to know! Share your experience with us.