Category Archives: Meetings

Coaching Virtual Teams

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Because of globalization and business projects that often span across the country or across the globe, coaching virtual teams can bring its own set of challenges. Here are some guidelines for effectively coaching a virtual team:

1. Develop a common focus or purpose that aligns with the organizational goals. This includes clarifying tasks, processes and milestones to ensure team and individual accountability.

2. Create a unique identity for the entire team such as a special name for the team, a logo, or a Facebook page that defines the overall team purpose.

3. Establish communication guidelines for the team. Be clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate given the dispersed locations of team members. For instance, holding team meetings at the same day and time each week provide some structure for all team members.

4. Establish frequent individual connections with each of your team members to show your engagement and involvement with them as individuals. This could include using Facetime or Skype to communicate with them.

5. Provide constructive feedback both to individuals and the team through regular virtual coaching sessions. Holding regular virtual team building exercises keeps the team engaged and helps to create a productive and fun environment.

6. Clarify and track individual and team commitments through project management software like Basecamp, Work Zone and Wrike , so everyone on the team can see how their efforts link with the rest of the overall project.

7. Be available after regular business hours for questions or concerns. Different time zones make this critically important.

Remember, coaching virtual teams brings both challenges and opportunities to connect in different ways. Effective coaches understand that frequent communication is critical to the success of the team and its goals.

Learning Dynamics’ popular “Managing Virtual Teams’ webinar expands upon these topics.

Five Steps to Conference Call Success

Meetings that Drive Results is a popular training program with Learning Dynamics clients as many are working to find ways to have more effective meetings, fewer meetings, and different ways to communicate across teams. Conference calls are one option toward that end.

A participant at a recent session asked, “How do I help other managers who don’t trust the effectiveness of conference calls? This person wants to have in-person meetings, even when they are inconvenient for many. He doesn’t think conference calls work. He says that people don’t pay attention and no work gets done.”

While there are many ways to make conference calls more effective, we offered a five-step strategy to get everyone engaged in the calls and to ensure that work is accomplished.

Prepare an Agenda. This should be a part of every effective meeting, whether in-person or virtual, and it is especially valuable for conference calls. Let your participants know the start and end times, the topics to be discussed, and who is presenting what information. A compelling agenda will help get people on your call on time, ready to collaborate.

Track Participation. After you have taken attendance at the beginning of the call, keep a tally of who participates. Is Bob lurking in the shadows and staying quiet? Call on him for his insights and opinions. You will only have to do this a few times before people realize they can’t just dial in and go quiet.

Get Commitments. Make task assignments and clarification of next steps a non-negotiable part of every call. You cannot afford to let a call end without having a clear plan for what will happen next.

Follow Up. When the call is over, send out notes and a summary of commitments. Follow up individually with participants at appropriate times to ensure they are staying on track with their work.

Celebrate. Starting with the second conference call, recognize and celebrate the work accomplished to which your participants committed during the previous call. This positive feedback loop will help everyone understand the value of the conference calls and will keep them striving to fulfill the commitments they make during them.

While conference calls are not always ideal (sometimes the technology can be a big challenge!), they can save a lot of time and expense. The trick, of course, is to plan for the calls to be productive and successful, and then take the steps above to make the plan reality.

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Do you even need to have that meeting? Read this to decide for yourself.

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Learning Dynamics has been delivering customized employee training and development solutions to its clients for 35 years. Meetings that Drive Results is just one of many training initiatives that can help your organization improve efficiency and effectiveness. Contact Learning Dynamics today to learn more.

Do You Need to Have that Meeting?

LD Logo ArtWe have been working with clients to help them avoid contributing to the wasted time that comes with unnecessary and poorly planned meetings. A recent estimate pegs the number at $37 billion in the US alone. That’s every year! As we’ve gotten out and interacted with groups, we have found that employees feel that some meetings just do not need to happen. That’s a great place to start cutting into the $37 billion.

The first place to start is to ask the tough question: What’s the worst thing that happens if we don’t have the meeting? If you cannot come up with a compelling answer, that can be a clue that the meeting should be cancelled.

Second, consider some options to communicate that do not require getting everyone together in a real or virtual room. Could more information be put in writing and shared via email, shared folders, or some other channel that would eliminate the need for the meeting?

Third, evaluate the effectiveness of past meetings. What were the results of the last meeting? Were the time and effort put into them rewarded with clear outcomes and benefits? If not, why not? Did you plan it well? Does your team agree on goals and follow up to keep progress moving?

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See Five Steps to Conference Call Success to get the most out of those calls.

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Importantly, there are some political and power issues at play when it comes to meetings and conference calls. The scary issue for many is, “How can I tell my boss that this meeting is a waste of time?” This is very common when organizations have standing meetings.

Each meeting should stand on its own, whether it is a standing meeting or an exception. If there is important work to be done, critical information to be shared, a plan, and follow up, go for it! If it is a meeting just because we always have a meeting at 10 on Tuesdays, do the critical thinking and analysis and consider killing it – even if for just this one time.

Managers who go through this thought process will do three things that immediately benefit themselves and their people. First, they will give productive time back to their teams (who doesn’t want that?). Second, they will send the message that the meetings we do have are important. Third, and maybe most importantly, they demonstrate that “this is the way we have always done it” doesn’t have a place in their company.

Get your productivity back. Kill the bad meetings and make the rest productive and goal-focused.


Do you have ideas on how to boost the value of meetings? Have you ever cancelled a standing meeting? We would love to hear about it in our comments section.


Learning Dynamics can help your company get the most out of its meeting investment. Visit the Learning Dynamics website to learn more about Meetings that Drive Results.