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Communication best practices for the Global Team Leader May 20, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Effective meetings, Global communication, Global leadership, Leading globally.
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In this entry, I will complete discussing the best practices for the remainder of the global communications technologies.

 Telephone call

The Big Dogz use the telephone call when there is a high interpersonal component to the message. We want to take advantage of using the tone to add value to our effectiveness in both sending and receiving messages.

  • Make a plan. Sketch out how you want the conversation to proceed. What information do you need to convey or acquire.
  • Practice the call. If this is a very important call, invest a few minutes in practicing what you will say.
  • Use paraphrasing. Periodically, summarize what you have heard and ask the listener to summarize so you can check if you are communicating effectively.
  • Have a picture of the person you are talking with in front of you. Focus on the picture while you talk; this will keep you from multi-tasking and will help you remember you are talking to a person.
  • Follow up any agreements or commitments with an email. Review the email with the person before you send it to others.

 Teleconferencing

The Big Dogz use teleconferencing to communicate with groups of people about complex issues.

  • Publish an agenda prior to the teleconference
  • Encourage people to share pictures of themselves so they can put a face to the voice
  • Distribute any presentation material in advance
  • Ask everyone to introduce or identify themselves when joining the call
  • Have anyone who speaks to identify themselves before saying their piece
  • Identify conference protocols like when to speak
  • Be aware of cultural difference in telephone etiquette
  • Use paraphrasing to facilitate understanding
  • Take notes on key decisions, key information disclosed and any action commitments made. Send this document to the teleconference attendees for validation before sending to people outside the call

 Groupware (Webex, Live Meeting, etc)

The Big Dogz use groupware to take advantage of the visual as well as the auditory cues in global communication. This medium is ideal for communication that is complex and requires a significant interpersonal interaction. All of the best practices for teleconferencing apply here as well. In addition:

  • Use a webcam to show a video of yourself. It is amazing how much more attentive people are when they can see you. If possible use webcams for all the people in the meeting. Of course when you get more than three people in the meeting, it can get confusing moving all the video around.
  • Have a list of all the participants and track how much they are engaged. When you see someone’s engagement get out of proportion, take corrective action to address the issue.
  • Take advantage of the features of the virtual meeting service. Providing materials, setting up assessments and surveys are some of the excellent tools available. Most services allow the participants to use a chat feature. Make use of this feature to capture ideas and discussion points. Once the session is over, you can send the chat file to all the participants.
  • Have a word processing document available for capturing the minutes of the meeting. Update it dynamically and at the end of the meeting, review it then send a copy to all the participants. I have attached a Word file you can use for capturing information about your virtual meeting. Please feel free to use it.

 Videoconferencing

The Big Dogz use video conferencing when communicating complex information with larger groups requiring a high level of interpersonal interaction. All of the best practices for the face to face meetings apply here. In addition:

  • Be aware that video technology may not appear smooth. The technology has advanced well enough to provide television quality video; however, these levels of sophistication require enormous bandwidth capabilities and may not be available at your installation.
  • Use the video to focus in on the speaker so that we can take advantage of tone and non verbal cues.
  • Share the time in the video close-ups.
  • Remind people that unnecessary movement detracts from people’s ability to focus on the meeting.
  • If your videoconferencing system has a “self view” function, use it to see how you are being seen by the people at the other end of the conference.
  • Once you make the adjustments for optimum video and audio components, leave them alone. Constant changing of the focus or sound levels can be distracting.
  • How you dress can be important in a videoconference. Light clothing is more effective than darker clothing.
  • If snacks are being provided at some locations and not others, have them out of camera range.

 The Big Dogz know that communicating effectively in a global team environment is difficult. By using these best practices, you can be one of the Big Dogz.

meeting documentation

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Inaction breeds poor behaviors August 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Changing behavior, Diagnosing performance problems, Effective meetings, Feedback, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Performance issues.
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p5130012.jpg  Are people consistently violating your policies? The Big Dogz know that it could be caused by inaction. This is the principle the Big Dogz follow:

 

If you allow it, you encourage it!

 

Here is an example of allowing a behavior, resulting in encouragement. Let’s say you make an announcement that all team members will be in attendance and ready to participate at the scheduled start of team meetings. Rick casually strolls in 3 minutes late. You do not want to appear inflexible, tyrannical or picky, so you let it go. You have just sent the message to all the people who were on time, that it is OK to be late. You can be sure others will be late the next meeting and the degree of lateness will increase.

 

Overlooking an infraction because it is minor or because you don’t want to ruffle feathers is a sure fire way of seeing that action more frequently. This principle does not require you to make a big deal of the situation or to mete out Draconian punishment. A gentle reminder to the person that the behavior is not appropriate will work. Say something like this, “Rick, please make an effort to be on time to our meetings.” Don’t get into an argument about justification. If need be, have a conversation about his lateness outside the meeting.

 

If the reminder does not work, then you will need to escalate your actions. Most of time, people do not want to violate your policies. Give them the opportunity to learn! If you do not take action on this policy, people will start to think you are not serious about your other policies. Now, you can get into some serious trouble!

 

In the One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard talks about “Catching them doing something right.” That concept applies doubly in this situation. First, we want to catch them when an infraction occurs. Bring it to their attention, publicly if appropriate. Encourage them to behave in the way you want. When you see them make an effort to adhere to your policies, take the time to thank them. In the above scenario, I might give Rick a compliment for making the effort to be on time. At the next meeting, he is there, on time and ready to go. I would walk by him and in a low voice say “Thanks for being on time.” Again, no need to make a big deal of it since it may embarrass him.

 

Whatever actions you allow on your team, the more of those actions you can expect to see. Over the next 30 days, look around at your team and decide what actions you want to reduce or eliminate. Now start holding people accountable in a firm supportive way. The Big Dogz know you will see a significant improvement.

 

Please let me know how this suggestion has worked for you.

Effective meetings July 7, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Effective meetings, Keeping Organized.
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  p5130012.jpg Stop wasting time in meetings! Just because you are a small company does not mean that you can afford to waste time and energy in meetings. The Big Dogz know and practice good meeting management, and you can too. Here is a tips list to help you get your meetings more organized: 

  1. Each meeting has just one purpose. Keep people focused on that purpose. If you do not know the purpose of the meeting, figure it out before you start the meeting. Ask “What are we trying to accomplish?’
  2. It is generally a good idea to leave rank at the door, especially in problem solving meetings. However, appoint someone in the meeting to be the facilitator. Experiment with using different facilitators.
  3. Create an agenda for your meeting. Put the most important topics first on the agenda. Provide time estimates for all agenda items, and stick to them.
  4. Use a time bank. Add 10-15 minutes at the end of the agenda. Use this time during the meeting to keep people on target. If you finish an agenda item early, deposit the time in the time bank. People will work hard to have time left in the time bank because it means they get out early.
  5. Send the agenda to everyone ahead of time so they can give you feedback and be prepared. Once the meeting starts, post the agenda or hand out a copy to each person.
  6. The first topic on the agenda is to review and adjust the agenda.
  7. Discuss general guidelines for behavior in your meetings. Something like “Only one person talks at a time.” These guidelines can be developed over time based upon the behaviors of people in the group.
  8. Use the parking lot to contain topics that are off purpose. Always ask permission to put a topic or question into the parking lot. Always empty the parking lot before the end of the meeting. That is, assign it to someone, make it an agenda item for another meeting or identify that the issue has been handled. Not emptying the parking lot will cause reluctance to put future items into the parking lot.
  9. Appoint someone to be a time keeper. This person also keeps track of the time back.
  10. Appoint a scribe. This person will take the minutes of the meeting. You can use the Meeting Documentation form attached to this entry. Before the meeting ends, have the scribe read the minutes to make sure everyone agrees. Update the form and distribute the minutes to all participants as soon as possible after the meeting.
  11. At the end of a meeting, do a group process discussion about how the meeting went. What did we do well? What did we do that was not effective? What ideas do you have to make us more effective?

 If you follow these tips, you will see that meetings do not need to be time wasters.

Meeting documentation form

Send an email to Rick: rbronder@gmail.com