April 16, 2019
Team meetings didn't become an effective and calming space for me until I learned to listen better and trust more.
In the early days of starting a business your client catalogue isn't typically very robust. Every business begins with that first client, then you get a second, and soon you may have a half dozen project deadlines on the calendar. Congrats, you should celebrate! The next obstacle to overcome is how to take managing a dozen clients, to managing three times that.
I remember sitting at my desk - Foreword had just added our 20th client and we were juggling a marry-go-round of tasks, deadlines, meetings, and everything else that comes with a growing company. I felt jumbled, out of sync, and with all the projects I was managing, a small fear began to grow that I was going to miss something.
Checklists and calendars are extremely helpful and needed, but what happens when the projects begin incorporating a half dozen people with multiple tasks and deadlines all at the same time?
Get (Tech) Savvy
If you're looking for a great project management system definitely check out Flow or Asana. However, it's going to take more than software to manage a healthy team and maintain your calm while juggling and delivering a dozen projects at a time.
As a team we've typically had a Monday meeting to touch base on projects since our inception. This was always a loose, casual meeting, though initially it could afford to be. When we first started we were only working for a few clients. Once we hit the ground running and I was responsible for two-dozen project delivery dates and an additional handful of monthly and weekly tasks to keep tabs on, I was struggling.
This is when I knew Monday meetings needed to change. I am not a micro manager. I believe and trust my team to deliver, and they do outstanding work, but, as an overseer of operations and projects I need to be kept in "the know" across the board on things so that I can effectively guide the process, set goals, communicate with clients, overcome challenges, and deliver.
Here is how Monday meetings changed: I started treating them as a time to listen to the thoughts and concerns of my team members, not just to update items across our project management system. I began to let my team lead and take charge vs trying to fit them into what I thought should happen. Healthy team members know what is expected of them and they'll be sure to complete tasks in a timely manner. It's not my job to push them toward that, it's my job to encourage them and guide them back to their sweet spot when they feel lost.
Know Your Role
My job as operations manager is to trust those around me, to listen to my team and be an encourager of them. Everyone faces their own doubts and fears that when left unspoken can become a hinderance in many ways. We often see ourselves as less capable than we truly are and I've learned that when I'm feeling the most overwhelmed or I'm about to miss something, the most important thing I can do is simply listen to where my team is at because we are all natural checks for one another in a Monday team meeting. We're there to succeed and face challenges together, not alone.
We call our weekly meeting, Monday Monday, and it's something that we are always continually improving upon. Team meetings didn't become an effective and calming space for me until I learned to listen better and trust more.