Executives spend an extraordinary amount of time in meetings. A meeting can have many different purposes, and in-fact do commonly serve multiple purposes. For instance, our MedMan Strategic Planning meetings serve to develop a shared vision, reconcile competing agendas, and develop a work plan of objectives and projects. All that serves to shape an organizational culture, making meetings a complex web of thinking, communication and decisions. Despite all the things going on in meetings, the one common purpose, and a requirement of all meetings, is good communication.
I was intrigued by an observation made at a recent client meeting. The administrative leadership team attended all the same meetings, but it was observed that the communication was different depending on the meeting. “Why”…probed another member of the team. The answer is not so straightforward. At one level, the participants and audience of each of the meetings are different. Arguably the messaging should be different. However, the unintended consequence might be that colleagues (members of the same leadership team) might hear a slightly different approach, a different set of words, or a different explanation from one meeting to the next. This leads to a question that I learned from a highly educated, highly paid consultant … “So, what?”. ..and the answer gets even murkier. The different messaging caused a colleague to sense a lack of transparency, a feeling that a “spin” was being put on the message, and ultimately undermined the trust that is fundamental to members of the administrative team. Houston… now we have a problem. I could leave you hanging for the answer, like an irritating TV series, but the answer can be found in a management classic, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, one in a series of books by Patrick Lencioni. More particularly, “avoidance of accountability”. A cornerstone of accountability is the responsibility of any member of the team to confront any situation that he/she feels may serve to undermine the success of the organization. For more on how good communication is fueled by accountability, check out this 9-minute video.