We’ve waged a personal vendetta against ‘the business meeting’ for the past year or so and have successfully come out on top. A video (*http://youtu.be/FmlruH-Q95Y) pays homage to the past ‘victims’ while displaying some of the innovative format changes we’ve made.
A call center where we have about 170 frontline staff reaching out to members concerning their health benifits. A typical call center environment with the usual challenges. The meetings were bland and the energy was low, something had to be done. The video really gives a much better picture than what I can describe.
Very few people are fond of the typical business meeting. They are lackluster, too long and most of the information is lost even before it leaves the room. Even if you have managed to sift beyond the typical "we’ve over extended our leverage and circled back so much so that we've actually ended up inside the box, and it's almost impossible to think outside of" the substance just wasnt there.
I was about 45 minutes into one of the abovementioned type meetings when I asked myself “what am I doing with my life, I mean I wanted to be in music and instead hear I am stuck in middle management purgatory.” Yes it’s true, there is nothing like a boring meeting to make you really take stalk in your life and start asking some questions. Soon those questions turned in a different direction – “was I subjecting my team to this, that’s terrible, no one should have to go through this.” Soon I was hastily sketching out ideas (which served the dual purpose of projecting a sense of renewed interest at the current meeting I was in). People don’t go home and watch a meeting. No one in their right mind would elect to have information presented to them via power point and a monotone speaker. What do people watch? They watch talk shows! All I needed was a co host and as I glanced up I saw Igor, a native to Russia that would be the perfect fit. After the meeting I pitched the idea to him, the only catch was that he would only speak in Russian. I would pretend like I was the only one that understood what he was saying. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got.
Time is always an issue, after setting the bar very high with the original late night show there was some pressure to perform however once the team really became involved the ideas started pouring in. Sometimes you just can’t make business fun but you can always make it less painful and more engaging.
They say culture eats strategy for breakfast and I agree. The causality of increased performance in relation to the innovation occurring at our team meetings is difficult to quantify however when associates started coming in to attend the meetings on their day off I knew we had something. The messages are not only getting across they are being perpetuated by the staff.
Build your meetings around the message and your message around the team. Everything is about the team. Chances are you are not going to do any worse. Think about things that people like to do, what captures their interest and imagination? It may take a little work in the beginning but once you start the movement of fun meetings others will follow and contribute and before you know it you may be leading meetings that people actually look forward to!
Igor Korobeinikov, Clarice Clark, Rochelle Williams, Jim Bustamante
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