I know, I know, many of you this may appear to be a no brainer. Unfortunately, not everyone has gone to visit the Wizard of Oz-like the Scarcrow in a quest to have a brain! Yes, this does happen. People cancel meetings. I did a review of my last week's meetings I had and I have 30% of my meetings cancel because of something coming up. In my business practice, if you cancel within 24 hours prior to our meeting time, you are unable to rebook and you are not eligible for a refund. Of that 30 %, 50%....that's right, 50% cancelled within the 24 hours prior to their appointment time. Now that is a scary statistic.
So why is this so important?
Because it is important to CONNECT. CONNECTing is the ability to show someone else, whether it be a group or an individual that you decided to protect this time that has been mutually agreed upon to CONNECT.
Sounds simple, but it's not.
The reality is that we have competing interests. We have multiple people/deadlines/events that are pulling us in multiple directions. The other reality is that social media is so persistent in our worlds that we neglect others for the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). One meeting of 50 minutes means that you unplug from your email, social media, text messages, and phone calls. Sounds like a dream, no-it should be a reality.
Take a meeting I attended last week. This meeting had a rather long list of agenda items and we all agreed to allocate 2 hours PRIOR to the meeting to ensure we had sufficient time to plug away at each agenda item.
We had a couple of people run late, a person who cancelled at the last minute, and three people who needed to leave early. My initial reaction was to request that the meeting be cancelled altogether and reschedule to a time that everyone could be present and accounted for. Suddenly, it hit me.
THIS WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
Why? Because this meeting was not a priority for the people in the group. They had 'better' things to do or to satisfy their time. A part of my service is to debrief with whoever facilitated the meeting. The goal here is to review what worked and what did not. As well, this is an opportunity for the leader of this group to ask questions. When the staff left and I was left with the leader to debrief, I noticed that they were on their phone. I debriefed with the person leading the group, I asked my curious questions about how they perceived the meeting and what wins or misses they noticed. The responses were delayed as their focus was more on their phone rather than the discussion at hand. The leader even went to ask if this debrief could be delayed because they had to respond to some emails.
I said no.
I then explained how important it would be to be present in the debrief because the reflection is current. The meeting JUST happened and we can talk about what occurred within the meeting. I also acknowledged that the company was paying for this service. Reluctantly, they agreed to have the conversation. I asked them about how they perceived the engagement level of the group. The leader did acknowledge how frustrating it was that their staff showed up late for the meeting and wanted to leave early. He was inclined to agree with me as well that many had their phones out and were delayed in providing input on the subject matter.
It all starts with the leader.
I then asked about the leader's habits within their one-on-one meetings. They reflected and mentioned that the same things happen during their individual meetings with the team members. I asked for examples of when the leader had noticed similar events and they explained that when they are late for meetings, they apologize.
The culture is now created.
CONNECTing is so important that even being late to a meeting or cancelling a meeting altogether can, and often does, creates a stigma of how the person conducts themselves. If they are late, then by default, it is ok for others to be late as well without repercussions or consequences to their actions.
Consistency is critical.
I offered the feedback to this leader that they needed to be consistent. They needed to be on-time and lead by example. As well, they admitted that they cancelled meetings with their staff when they were asked to attend another meeting with their manager. I asked if you would find it acceptable for your staff to find it acceptable to cancel on your for another appointment. The leader thought for a good 30 seconds about my remarks and came to the conclusion that if they had scheduled a meeting, it was important to attend and protect this time. Albeit, if you are sick or a family emergency came into play, then yes, a meeting can be cancelled or scheduled. Ultimately, remember that we leaders lead by example. Our time is important just as much as our front-line staff. Not only that, but look at the stigma that can occur or the consequences to our actions when we are not consistent with our actions.
Have problems CONNECTing with staff? Are you finding yourself caught up in your work and feel disCONNECTed? Join Dr. Drew's Discussion Community to chat and discuss with Dr. Drew and other members about how to effectively CONNECT with others!
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