Nem's business advice 7 replies

Please wait...

Nemmerle Forum Mod

Voice of joy and sunshine

298,291 XP

26th May 2003

0 Uploads

28,141 Posts

5 Threads

#1 8 months ago

Come children. Nem will tell you how to do your first team meeting.

You are running the meeting. There’s no point pussy footing about. Start as you meant to go on.

“Thank you all for coming. This is a quick meeting to cover the main objectives of the [contract, project, team – delete as appropriate], brief you on the structures we’re gong to be using together, and share some basic facts about ourselves. First though, I’d like to go around the table and share our names and a short description of our main specialities. Jack, why don’t you start us off?”

[Jack does his bit and you go around the table by indicating people and saying their name. Incline your head toward them when Jack’s communicated enough, if they don’t pick up on it gesture toward them and invite them to speak. Don’t gesture with a finger, gesture with an open palm as if you’re handing them something. Which you are: The floor. And don’t ask who wants to go first! No-one wants to go first – you don’t want to go first and you’re running the thing. Coincidentally you go last – little is worse than someone who starts a meeting with ‘Now let’s talk about ME!’]

“Thank you all. I’m X and I’ve done Y. Looking forward to working with you all.

Now there are a few ground rules for my meetings” [Yes it is your meeting. Take some responsibility. It’s not a team meeting – they don’t set the agenda.] “You will be expected to arrive five minutes early to a meeting with coffee and smokes and whatever else taken care of. Everyone brings pen and paper and keeps a record of their own action points from the meeting. Phones go on that table over there on silent. There will always be a pre-meeting brief and agenda. The meeting is a place for questions and comments about the briefing, so you will be expected to have read it and come prepared. Meetings will never run for longer than their scheduled time – my meetings typically run for around two thirds of their scheduled time.

Other than the team meeting, which occurs every week here [day and time] and you should have an invite to, there is one other standing meeting that I run and that’s your one to ones. Ones to ones are there to build a professional relationship and discuss anything that may have come up during the week. They last thirty minutes.

That’s all the meeting structure. Do the prep work, turn up, be ready to talk. We’ll cover other types of meeting as we get to them. Are there any questions or concerns about that?”

[There rarely are]

“Cool. So, contract purpose: [Brief overview of contract]. Does that align with what everyone was expecting?”

[Usually does]

“Cool. So, in terms of outstanding work for this week we’re looking at. Jack can you... thanks.

...

As I said at the start, thank you all for coming. You’re all good at your jobs or you wouldn’t be here, and I look forward to working with you. I’m going to dissolve the meeting now and the rest of this time is yours to do with as you please. Get coffees, have chats, go for a smoke. I’ll be talking to you throughout the week prior to your one to ones but I’m going to be around the coffee area for a little while after the meeting so if there are any questions you want to raise on a one to one basis just come grab me.”

#

And that’s it. You don’t do the team building exercises, you don’t have everyone describe the person sitting next to them, you don’t share a fact about yourself no-one else knows. You have a reason to be meeting rather than vague bullshit and the awareness that you're meant to have a meeting.

And people will respect you for it because you treat them like professionals who are there to do a job rather than like kids in a kindergarten whose time you’re keen on wasting.

Is that all there is to setting up a team? No. You’re not for instance telling them about how to have professional disagreements and how you – as the manager, the person with authority – act to resolve those. You’re not telling them the ultimate definition of consensus. You’re not telling them how meetings for other purposes work. You’re not telling them how to communicate with one another to share information relevant to a task. You’re going to have to work with your team, build relationships, sometimes you’ve got to develop their professional skills so they can work together more easily. There’s a crapload of stuff on and around setting up teams and getting to know your people.

It’s about the most you’re going to get into the meeting before your results start to suffer and is significantly more than most people ever do to set up a team however. I lose track of the number of times I’ve gone into a team that’s been running for a while and asked ‘So how do you usually run your meetings?’ and got ‘We just talk’ as the answer. Well, love ya’ but no you don’t. Or at least I pray you don’t.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

The Bad

216,814 XP

7th December 2003

0 Uploads

19,996 Posts

6 Threads

#2 8 months ago

Will you hire me pls?




Andron Taps Forum Mod

Faktrl is Best Pony

261,475 XP

10th September 2007

4 Uploads

21,739 Posts

1,754 Threads

#3 8 months ago

Mmm, that's something that quickly needs to be introduced into the university system.  Far too many classes - especially in the social sciences - use the stupid tactic of two people talking and introducing the other person as well as their interests and aspirations.  To be honest, I don't care.  If I thought you were interesting I'd have talked to you on my own time with my own effort.  University, if not secondary school, needs to be the start of learning to be a professional who is useful to society and can communicate important matters efficiently and effectively.  We don't need a syllabus of your hopes and dreams.  

Unfortunately, a lot of meetings on group projects seem to go nowhere at all.  So much time is wasted on trivial bullshit without even the pretense of any sort of plan.  I've had maybe two instances of group projects where we had meaningful discussions on material and how to present it.  Otherwise, projects tend to be giant messes that I inevitably and single-handedly have to clean up in order to preserve my own grade.  


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



Nemmerle Forum Mod

Voice of joy and sunshine

298,291 XP

26th May 2003

0 Uploads

28,141 Posts

5 Threads

#4 8 months ago
Posted by MrFancypants Will you hire me pls?

Wish I could hire all the people I think well of smilie.gif Champagne problems though "There are too many awesome people I'd like to hire" is a nice position to be in.

Posted by Adrian Ţepeş Mmm, that's something that quickly needs to be introduced into the university system.  Far too many classes - especially in the social sciences - use the stupid tactic of two people talking and introducing the other person as well as their interests and aspirations.  To be honest, I don't care.  If I thought you were interesting I'd have talked to you on my own time with my own effort.  University, if not secondary school, needs to be the start of learning to be a professional who is useful to society and can communicate important matters efficiently and effectively.  We don't need a syllabus of your hopes and dreams.  

Unfortunately, a lot of meetings on group projects seem to go nowhere at all.  So much time is wasted on trivial bullshit without even the pretense of any sort of plan.  I've had maybe two instances of group projects where we had meaningful discussions on material and how to present it.  Otherwise, projects tend to be giant messes that I inevitably and single-handedly have to clean up in order to preserve my own grade.  

Well, yeah. That's how things go when people can just doss off and others are forced to put up with them. Works that way in poorly run companies too - and generally the people who doss off are the ones who end up in middle management because they'll spend more time on the malign side of politics (attacking the system/company's ability to recognise positive contributions accurately) than they will on actually doing anything.


If ya' want to address that problem, you've got to address the incentives. Either by having the prof exercise the role of a leader - which many of them are ill-equipped to do - or by increasing the freedom of association that people have. If you could choose whether to do group work or not, and who to form groups with - just turn in your work at the end, either as a group or as individuals - then things would look very different.

Mind you, if they did that it might become apparent that they don't know a lot about teaching you about the benefits and means of working together ¬_¬ Because low-group-participation would be an indicator that they weren't good at teaching group-work tonguez.gif 




Andron Taps Forum Mod

Faktrl is Best Pony

261,475 XP

10th September 2007

4 Uploads

21,739 Posts

1,754 Threads

#5 8 months ago

From what I've always been told, if you complain to the professor and explain the situation, especially when you know your team has no evidence otherwise, they will give you all the credit and leave none for them. By-and-large, however, you're right; they don't seem to know jack about motivating people to collaborate and give meaningful input.


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



Nemmerle Forum Mod

Voice of joy and sunshine

298,291 XP

26th May 2003

0 Uploads

28,141 Posts

5 Threads

#6 6 months ago

If you can help it, don't hire part-timers. "Why?" I hear you ask. (Or maybe that's just the people I locked in the attic?... Anyway! Moving swiftly on - ) 

The standing costs are the same for every employee and the costs of communication among a group increase in a non-linear fashion with group size. Having a team of six where they're all full time costs you as much in terms of work inefficiencies as having a team of six where they're all part time. But to make up the same number of productive hours with the part time team as you did with the full time team, you'll need more than six people. And six is already about the largest size it's practical to have a team for any project of significant complexity.

If you're just doing production line stuff, it doesn't matter. You just care about the hours, and however you get them is fine. But if you're doing anything where people have to work together?

Keep headcount down if at all possible.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

The Bad

216,814 XP

7th December 2003

0 Uploads

19,996 Posts

6 Threads

#7 6 months ago
Posted by Nemmerle
Posted by MrFancypants
Will you hire me pls?

Wish I could hire all the people I think well of smilie.gif Champagne problems though "There are too many awesome people I'd like to hire" is a nice position to be in.


Don't worry, I'm quite happy with my current job and also have champagne problems (had to refuse another awesome job recently because the current job is so good) :)





Superfluous Curmudgeon VIP Member

AOE2 Addict

11,723 XP

22nd December 2007

0 Uploads

793 Posts

9 Threads

#8 6 months ago
Posted by Nemmerle

If you can help it, don't hire part-timers. "Why?" I hear you ask. (Or maybe that's just the people I locked in the attic?... Anyway! Moving swiftly on - ) 

The standing costs are the same for every employee and the costs of communication among a group increase in a non-linear fashion with group size. Having a team of six where they're all full time costs you as much in terms of work inefficiencies as having a team of six where they're all part time. But to make up the same number of productive hours with the part time team as you did with the full time team, you'll need more than six people. And six is already about the largest size it's practical to have a team for any project of significant complexity.

If you're just doing production line stuff, it doesn't matter. You just care about the hours, and however you get them is fine. But if you're doing anything where people have to work together?

Keep headcount down if at all possible.

Nem is smart boss man. Now I give Nem business advice. Much yelling at your people helps keep head count down. Working in building that is prone to repeated attacks by criminals  also keeps head count down. Not paying employees will cut more people from your crew. Do these things, and you get good business.