Too often the things we do most often at work are the least effective. Think about the meetings your team has each and every day, week or month — are people engaged or going through the motions? If your organization has a monthly safety meeting — is there genuine learning going on, or is the focus ‘sign the roster so you don’t have to sit through this again‘? What about new employee orientations — are you welcoming people to your team or asking them to sit through a day of crummy PowerPoint slides? We call these activities “meetings”, “reviews”, and “orientations” but we should think of them as “rituals“. The meetings we hold most consistently communicate to team-members: this is important to us… this is what we value… this is how we expect you to think, feel and act around here. You know you could do better, but who has the time and energy? Who’s going to risk upsetting their boss, HR, the safety department or ‘corporate’ by saying, “Stop. We’re wasting our time and sending the wrong message. Let’s do better?” You should. Here’s the thing: a lousy weekly staff meeting is a waste of time… but week after week of going through the motions and keeping your mouth shut is corrosive. When I tolerate less-than-my-best in one area, I’m more likely to tolerate it in others. When I keep my frustrations to myself, I make it harder for others to express themselves. Before too long, that lousy staff meeting begins to show up as lousy performance. It’s time to take on the counter-productive “rituals” we’ve been tolerating! Make your “rituals” matter Start by asking, which activities engage the most people, the most often, the most consistently? These are your rituals: start with them. Now ask yourself, what’s the intentionandwhat’s the opportunityof this activity? How do we want people to think and feel, what do we want them to know and do, as the result of participating in this activity? Redesign your “ritual” to create these outcomes. If you want people to feel engaged, make your “rituals” engaging: spend less time talking at people and more time talking with them — ask questions that prompt conversation. If you want open lines of communication, so make sure your “rituals” remove barriers to communication: make sure people know each other’s names and maybe a bit about what they’re up to. If you want people to be responsiblefor their work, involve them in leading the meeting — rotate responsibility for leading the meeting, and call on people to participate. It’s time to take on what you’ve been tolerating If you or your team are going to do something every day, week or month, the last thing you want to do is model resignation and surrender to the status quo. Make these meetings — these “rituals” —matter  .And more importantly, show your team what it looks like to speak up and stand up for quality and effectiveness. If you know you could and should do better… do it!

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