Of course meetings suck, because no one is training us to do this stuff! In schools when we are given a leadership role, there are no Fairy-God-Mothers roaming the halls to swoop in and help you out when you have important questions like: “How the hell do I run a meeting that doesn’t suck?”
Let me be your guiding light of kickassness as we explore how you can use your Middle-Leadership position to change the way that meetings happen in your school.
I’ve never had a cleaner because I just don’t trust anyone to be able to restrain themselves from fossicking through my underwear draw if they are left alone in my house. But, about 99% of the people that I know who have cleaners, run around doing a pre-clean before the cleaner comes so they don’t realise that they’re working for complete slobs. Waste of time……? Sure, but that pales in comparison to the monumental time-wastage that occurs when we have meetings about future meetings and then a meeting to debrief on meetings that we’ve already had.
Let’s make a rule right now that when we lead a meeting, it’s got a laser sharp focus that people are aware of BEFORE they turn up. What’s the purpose of your meeting? If it’s to transfer information from your brain to your team-members’ brains – JUST SEND AN EMAIL! If it’s to discuss/plan/explore -GREAT- write some questions to guide your meeting. Leadership through Coaching isn’t about getting everyone together and telling them what they need to do and how they need to do it. It’s about going – “Hey guys, we’ve got this problem, how shall we solve it.”
Remember this: Powerful Questions create Powerful Discussions.
🤩 Tutor Teacher:
“Report writing is coming up- what could you do to manage your workload?”
🤩 Curriculum Leader:
“What could we do to ensure that every teacher in our school is ready to teach the Digital Technologies Curriculum next year?”
🤩 Team Leader:
“Children are all-sorts-of-crazy on the playground at the moment, what can we do to help them to build their cooperation skills?”
A good Middle Leader doesn’t use meetings to tell people what they need to do, they use meetings to ask the group how THEY want to do things.
Eeerrr this one winds me up more than anything in the world! If you need to be there for a meeting – BE THERE!!! ON TIME!!! Treat your meeting time as sacred. If Channing Tatum was coming to school to meet with you personally to discuss how he can support the PTA with their fundraising, you would offer to create the powerpoint, get a plate of biscuits ready, bring some sample calendars to show him for inspiration … just me, O.K. But the point is- you’d BE THERE because when you prioritise something, you make it happen and people see your values as a leader, in action.
Turning up even 5 minutes late to a meeting with 5 other people, wastes half an hour of collective time! Just don’t do it, no matter what else is going on!
💣 If a parent wants to chat say, “This isn’t a good time because I’m going to a meeting, if you’d like to make an appointment ….”
💣 If a colleague from another area of the school wants to chat really quickly for 30 seconds (hahahaha, yeah right, it’s never 30 seconds) you say, “it’ll have to wait sorry, I’m off to a meeting”.
💣 If there’s a rabid dog on the field, look away – you’ve got more important things to do!
This is an opportunity to showcase your team values – show each other that you respect and value the people that you work with. As a leader, you set the standard & let’s never ever apologise for having high standards.
Lastly, listen very, very carefully to this one- if a meeting is at 8am DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT quickly pop to a café at 7.50am and hope that the fast barista is working today!
I know, there’s a 24 Hour sale on ComfyYetStylish.com and you need to do some online shopping or you’ll be full of anxiety that you’ll have nothing to wear next summer holidays, but, meeting time is NEVER the right time for this! It’s like inviting a friend out for a coffee and sitting across from them at the table and playing Candy Crush the whole time – if you do that, you’re an asshole and you don’t deserve friends… or coffee!
Being truly present in a conversation with the people that you are face-to-face with is the BEST way to show them that you respect them. There’s no miscommunication when you are able to notice non-verbal cues. Messages are received with much more clarity & your ability to collaborate goes through the roof!
Put the phone/laptop/tablet down. Connecting with people is way more important than anything that is going on, on Facebook, Stuff or even SteveIrwinFanclub.com (I don’t know if that’s a thing but it definitely should be).
Try these things next time you are leading a meeting and see what happens. I’m guessing that your engagement levels will go through the roof and you’ll actually achieve an outcome of actionable next steps.
If you’ve got your own meeting challenges let me know. We’ll chat!
Cheers to us for changing the world, one meeting at a time.