Good evening, hope you’re doing well.

The Coaching Letter about protocols (#16) got very similar feedback to the letter on time management, unsurprisingly, with attendant requests for further information.  I should have anticipated this, and done a little advanced prep work, but clearly I have yet to learn that lesson.  So, in response to “this is great but do you have anything else on running effective meetings?” I will tell you that I am working on putting together some guidance.

In the meantime, I will also tell you that there are some other things you should be thinking about.  At some point, advice about running effective meetings bumps up against a limit to improvement, and the only way to break through that is to talk about effective teams.

Luckily there is a lot of really good stuff out there about teaming.  But as with many improvement strategies, the temptation is for you to think about changing other people, when to make a difference you have to be willing to change yourself.  Just take a moment to think about that…

I want to draw your attention to a couple of resources, out of the many that are available.  First is the work of Amy Edmondson.  Her book, Teaming, makes some points that, if we really enact, rather than merely espouse them, would shift the way we do business.  For example, she counsels us to:

1.       stop thinking about teams (noun) and start thinking about teaming (verb);

2.       understand that the primary function of teams is not to get things done, but to improve the organization by helping the organization learn-this is a big idea so perhaps more about that another time.

Here is Amy Edmondson in a Ted talk <> , and here is a shorter but more intellectually dense clip <>  about the relationship between learning, psychological safety, inclusive leadership, failure, and increased performance.

Second is the attached article from the New York Times Magazine.  This is long, but certainly worth the read-too long to read during a meeting, but perfect to read in preparation for a conversation.  (It also refers to Amy Edmondson’s work.)  One of the major take-aways is that the effectiveness of a team is not a function of having high flyers on your team; rather, it is about shared talk time-which you would have been able to predict from an earlier Coaching Letter (#16) about the importance of ensuring everyone has a voice.  If I were asking you to prep for a conversation by reading this article, I would ask you to come ready to answer these questions:

1.       From reading the article, what do you see as the criteria for successful teams?

2.       How does your team (s) rate?

3.       What steps will you take to make your team(s) more productive?

Finally, back to the part about changing yourself.  The research tells us that the most powerful person in the room is likely to be the one doing most of the talking, and the judging.  Obviously, this runs counter to the productive practices identified in the research.  I don’t know whether powerful people think it’s their right to talk the most, or that it’s their role to be the arbiter of quality, or that they are not aware that others cede the floor to them because of their rank, or what.  The issue is that, if you are talking more than anyone else you are limiting the effectiveness of the team, yet very few people are likely to be willing to give you that feedback.  So how are you going to manage your own behavior?

Thanks to Bridget for her help with this Coaching Letter.  Let me know what you need next.

Duhigg_What Google Learned

Isobel Stevenson PhD PCC
Program Coordinator
Connecticut Center for School Change
151 New Park Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Office: 860.586.2340

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