Questions to Guide Staff Meetings

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As the CEOs with whom I work focus on our 2016 plans, we start with our time management goals – how to use time more effectively. We’re redistributing time for one-on-one and small group meetings, to focus on dealing with the “need to know” and “need-to-help” issues; we’re also delegating time that we spend on activities which others can use, so we can focus on more strategic activities.

(Example: last year one CEO reduced his time reviewing invoices by re-structuring the process and empowering someone else to handle most of it; the reduction in 15% of his time allowed him to focus on sales and increase revenues 25%!)

Alan Mullaly, former CEO of Ford, who spoke to Vistage CEOs in NYC, suggested the following six question formula that he used in his Performance Review Meetings, and which any person running a meeting can use with subordinates or partners:

  • Where are we going? (Let’s make sure we’re aligned on Strategy and Culture)
  • Where are you going? (Are you using your time on the most important strategic areas?)
  • What is going well? (Let’s acknowledge and celebrate what’s working!)
  • Where can we improve? (Remember, we’re focused on continuous improvement!)
  • How can I help you? (Tell me so I can help!)
  • How can you help me? (Seeing the big picture, what else can you do to contribute to the success of the team?)

Finally, the person running the meeting needs to understand that there are four types of “help” that the person can provide, and needs to decide which is appropriate given the context:

  • Directing – here’s what to do
  • Delegating – here’s the task, you can figure it out; but if you need help ask
  • Supporting – how can I help you with what you’re doing?
  • Coaching – what do you think you can do about this, and what would make it work best?

From a long-term perspective, leadership coaching, is most valuable, but given short-term needs, sometimes the others may be preferred.

How do you run your meetings? In 2016, can you reduce the amount of wasted time to focus on the most strategic objectives? What structure do you use to simultaneously grow your staff and meet corporate objectives? How do you decide which form of help to provide your people? Whare your experiences and insights!