Category: Work & Life Balance

3 Simple Steps to Saner Virtual Meetings

March 1st, 2017

In this day and age, when the whole world seems to be operating in some type of Bizarro alternate universe, where up is down and truth is fiction and fiction is passed off as truth, and stress rules, wouldn’t it be nice if all that time we spend in meetings was less stressful instead of adding to the stress?

Where your voice is heard?

Not feeling silenced!

Especially if you’ve taken on the noble task of organizing your community to bring some sanity back to our political reality, and you’re trying to run a meeting, or be part of a meeting, where some people need to ‘dial-in’ because they’re busy juggling getting babies to bed while working to save the planet.

Or, you just want your work life to be more balanced and spending time in pointless meetings has got you down.

Either way, let’s address what started as a difficult form of communication to begin with. Assembling a bunch of people together in a room to get stuff done.  And then became even more difficult as we removed some of the people and added cell phones, speaker phones, WebEx, Facetime, Skype, you-name-it to the mix.

Let’s make it saner, shall we…

Let’s start by addressing the reality that Virtual meetings are in fact a different breed of animal than regular meetings.  As such, they require (I’d even say DEMAND) the introduction and adherence to a few basic, but different, civil rights.  Here are 3 steps to get you started…

  1. Assign the role of Virtual Meeting Facilitator (VMF) to a different person than the meeting organizer/chair/leader/whatever-you-want-to-call the head honcho. This person is responsible for setting up and making sure that EVERYONE (even if they think they’ll be there in person, just in case they find themselves sitting in the airport waiting area to board their last-minute flight to Zimbabwe) has the links, call-in #’s, passwords, access codes, etc. needed to join the meeting virtually.  Also, if, no excuse me, WHEN there is a problem with accessing the technology, the VMF is the one who gets the call.  NOT the person trying to run the meeting.  Why should everyone in the room (and those that have joined the meeting successfully) have to suffer when one person hasn’t figured out their technology?

 

  1. Add a few Virtual Meeting Operating Agreements (VMOA) to your regular Operating Agreement’s (OA). If one of your OA’s is Be Respectful (my personal favorite and my only non-negotiable if I’m facilitating) add under that agreement list that those calling in will use the Mute Button when they’re not speaking (so we don’t all have to listen to the clicking of their keyboard while they catch up on their email).  Another one under that same banner would be to make a point of asking the call-ins their opinion from time-to-time since it’s hard to know if they’re raising their hands or needing to say something through their body language.  Another good VMOA that you might add would be for those on the phone – please remember to say your name before speaking so everyone knows who you are; or, if you want to engage with someone who is on the phone, thread them into the conversation by starting with their name before asking them your question.  Last, but not least, as a facilitator, use round-robin instead of popcorn style when someone asks a question of the team.  That way there isn’t as much dead air while folks politely wait for someone else to offer their opinion.

 

  1. Agree as a team to keep looking for new ways to improve on the VM experience. For example, going from conference calls (audio only) to a full A/V platform (Skype, Facetime, WebEx, etc.) allows all of you to ‘see’ each other rather than just the folks in the room.   Have your VMF be on the lookout for the platform that’s right for you (new ones are popping up by the minute).  Have your VMF be responsible for managing the crossover to any new platform, ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible.   Make sure that before you start the new platform all those ‘dialing in’ have experimented with the new tech and know how to work it.  Written instructions, w/ access codes, url’s and passwords all on one neat sheet.  You get my drift here…

These three steps are meant to be in addition to regular, good meeting practices that deserve to be an integral part of how your meetings are run.  For pointers on how to do just that, click here.  And/or, take this quick quiz on how efficient (or maddening) your meetings are currently operating.  A great metric to start with!

Reflections on a more mindful state of being…

October 10th, 2016

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As a young boy my mother would take me to temple on the High Holy days.  She would admonish me to sit still, reflect on where I had messed up during the previous year and make amends so that I could start the New Year with a clean slate.  At the time, I remember thinking that this all sounded a bit kooky.  Transgress all year, go to shul for a few days to make amends, then go out and misbehave all over again?!?

Which of course is exactly what I did.

It’s only as an adult that I finally started to put together the value of deep reflection, heartfelt atonement and commitment to doing better.  I am just now beginning to understand and appreciate the incredible impact and karmic reverberations of reflection and repentance.

In addition to avoiding the repetition of past mistakes, there’s much to be said for going one step further, such as practicing random acts of kindness and beauty. Or not so random.

Maybe we can find a way to reset our Snap Judgement Meter.  Breathe in and breathe out.  Slow down enough to be able to meet people where they are as opposed to where we think they should be.   Almost always it takes a willingness to look compassionately at whatever might be going on for others at any moment in time and accept them for who and where they are.  Here.  Now.  Without judgement.

It seems like many of my coaching clients and their teams experience a similar dissonance in the workplace; quick on the draw to judge others and themselves for that matter. All this does is lead to poor communication, challenging work flow and disappointing results.  The solution may not be as simple as meditating or mindfulness practices, but it certainly can’t hurt.  Almost every day we see new evidence of the effectiveness of a daily practice.  Just this week, in the online New York Times, I discovered this whole section devoted to How to Meditate and why it’s so helpful and healthy.  Sounds True is a wonderful resource worth checking out for their Mindfulness Daily program (amongst other great offerings).  There’s always the Understanding Ourselves page on my site (scroll down towards the bottom) where you’ll find great articles on meditation and mindfulness, along with some good readings on Communication and Leadership (further up the page, Sections listed alphabetically).

Even if you’re not celebrating the Jewish New Year, the fall is still an opportune time to put these practices of reflection and mindfulness to the top of your to-do list.  The change of seasons, the abundance of the fall harvest and the age-old time for ‘back-to-school’ seem ripe with possibilities.

What do you do to slow down and reset?  Any practices you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s to full and bountiful reflection!

Peter

 

 

 

Women lead with insight and compassion…

October 27th, 2010

Don’t know if this is pc or not.  Calling out what I just keep noticing over and over again, in all kinds of industries, in all types of positions, across the six different decades I’ve had the good fortune to work with/for others.   Women make better leaders than men.  Maybe not managers… but maybe that too.  Definitely better leaders though.

I base my assertion on what appears to be a generally higher level of emotional intelligence, more intuitive decision making, more effective communicating and a cohort that is better able to motivate others through both personal and organizational connection.
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The 3-legged Stool of Leadership

March 27th, 2010

This particular line of reasoning was originally inspired by an educator, Parker Palmer (http://www.couragerenewal.org/), who wrote a few books on this theme, Courage to Teach and Courage to Lead.  His hypothesis goes something like this…

Good teachers are good at two essential elements of teaching – they know their subject (content experts) and they know how to teach it (pedagogy).  All well and good.
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Buddhism and Business… intersections and intentions

February 19th, 2010

As an executive coach, serving a diverse array of organizations, I have the opportunity to witness the world of business (both for and not-for profit types of businesses) from a very interesting perspective; kind of inside/outside.

Often it’s not a pretty sight.

High drama masquerading as management. Disregard for family life, work/life balance. Positions of power wielded as weapons. Lack of acknowledgement for work well done. A general disregard of individual contributions, and/or team efforts. Lack of accountability. Failure to speak the truth. The list goes on, but I’m sure you know it all too well.
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more on Polarities…

December 11th, 2009

If you missed my last entry on Navigating Doula Polarities, let me bring you up to speed on my current thinking, vis-à-vis managing the sometimes seemingly ridiculous paradoxes, conundrums and ambiguities of life. I think you know what I’m referring to. For instance… on the one hand, we want to preserve our core values, hold onto those traditions and rituals that bring a smile to our face and joy to our heart. That bind our family together. The healthy habits that make it easy to love our loved ones.
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Navigating Doula Polarities

November 12th, 2009

Well… first, polarities. That paradoxical pairing of seemingly incompatible opposites, that, it turns out, are more often than not just two sides of the very same coin.

For all of us, the only universal polarity is life and death. We all were born. We all will die. Now, is it just me, or do you notice that, even though this is the ONLY thing we ALL have in common, it rarely, if ever, gets talked about! The death and/or dying part anyway, unless we’re talking about someone else’s funeral.
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Common sense…

October 29th, 2009

Having grown up on Paine Ave., as in Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense and an all around rabble rouser kind of guy, I am partial to clarity.  Clarity of words.  Clarity of thought.  Easy to say, often hard to do.

As an executive coach, and organizational development consultant, I get an often intimate, inside look into individual lives and their collective communities.  From where I sit, it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand basket. 
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