3 Things You Should Be Doing
to Make Your Meetings Better


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 101. 

Hey Builders, 

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robin Jackson. And today we're continuing our series on the difference between bosses, leaders, and builders. And we're going to talk about how bosses, leaders and builders handle meetings. Now before we dive in, I have a couple of announcements. Number one, we have a soft opening right now, if you want to join Buildership University, we haven't put it out to everybody yet, but people who are inside of our universe, our podcast listeners or our newsletter subscribers. 

We are making Buildership University available to you first. 

We have a certain number of people, we're going to enroll for this enrollment and you have first dibs on it. So build a ship University is our online community for builders just like you it's an opportunity for you to take on demand classes around different aspects of builder ship, it's also an opportunity for you to participate in live office hours with me, we do live office hours, at least twice a month, where you can bring any challenge and we can work together to help you solve it. In addition, we also have quarterly sprints where we get together and we get stuff done. So we just had a master scheduling sprint, that was all about setting up your master schedule, we're about to do a quarterly planning sprint, which is about setting up our last 90 days of the school year, and making sure that we're setting ourselves up for success. And we do that live together. 

So you come with your stuff. And you walk out with a plan you walk out with a tool already built and ready to go. Anyway builder ship University, we are opening up enrollment for this new cohort coming in, we have a founding cohort and they are just amazing. We just had our spring fling with our founding members. So once a quarter we have to get together and we you know, hang out and have a party to a virtual party. And so Buildership University is just like my favorite thing to do right now i'd love being inside, I love working, you know, one on one or in small groups with builders to help them apply builder ship to their schools. And we're already seeing this, this just all these success stories come out of that. And if you want to be involved in that, then you simply go to buildershipuniversity.com. That's BuildershipUniversity.COMM And you can get more information and find out how to enroll. Our second announcement is that tickets are now available for our next builders lab. 

We are going to do another Builders Lab 360 degree experience. 

We're doing it June 28 through 30 of 2021. And we'll be doing it right from our Virtual Campus. Now, I gotta tell you that we have done two virtual builders labs now. And they have both been just incredible. It's it's people always say it doesn't even feel like I'm not there, I'm engaged all day. I think that on some level, the virtual environment gets people to participate even more. And the other thing about virtual builders lab, it's a great opportunity to bring your team. So maybe if you were going to a live conference, getting everybody to leave and travel and all of that it would be really hard. But with virtual builder's lab, you can bring everybody on your team. If you're coming as a team, we put you together in your own group for the work so that when you come you actually get work done. 

So a lot of people use the June builders lab that we do typically every year to do their summer planning. So they bring their you know their leadership team to builders lab. And as we're working through the process, they are also thinking about how to plan for the upcoming school year and how to develop their own set plans and to use the builder ship process to make meaningful sub plans and how to have income how to have conversations about what they want to accomplish for the year and what's the right work to be doing. And that's one of the things you learn in builders lab. You're not just writing random plans, you're figuring out what is the right work that we should be doing right now. And we help you figure all of that out. So Tickets are on sale right now. If you want to ticket go to mindstepsinc.com slash builder's dash lab That's mindstepsinc.com slash builders dash lab. And if you're listening to this sometime in the future, and you missed the date for this upcoming June builders lab, just know that we do builders lab several times a year. And you can go to that same address, and find out when the next builders lab is happening, and join us for that one. Okay, let's dive into our topic today. 

Now, I have to admit that every time I talk about meetings, I always feel a little bit apologetic.

It's probably one of the least sexy things that I could talk about, there's so many more interesting and exciting and cool things that I could be talking about. But meetings are the workhorse that power to builder ship. And builders understand that if you can leverage your meetings correctly, you can get so much more done. And you can keep everybody focused meetings are just such a really, I don't know, they're just an incredible tool inside of a builders arsenal. The challenge is that most of the time, we don't use our meetings effectively. And so today, I want to talk about the difference between the way bosses, use meetings, leaders use meetings, and builders, how we use meetings and give you some tips that builders use to make their meetings powerful to help the use the meetings to propel the work to keep everybody focused, to keep meetings from being this you know, horrible thing that we have to endure. And instead, turn your meetings into something that people look forward to because they're seeing work get done. So first, let's talk about how bosses use meetings. And we all have been to that meeting, that should have been an email, that's how boss uses the meeting. So we're not going to spend a whole lot of time on that. Bosses waste a lot of time and meetings telling you stuff that could have been communicated another way. So you are sitting through the meeting and you thinking to yourself, you know what, we could have been gone an hour ago, you could have sent all this in an email. That's, that's how bosses do meetings, let's not be bosses.

Leaders try to make meetings a little bit more productive, you know, we show up with an agenda. And, you know, leaders sit down and try to map out that agenda, we put time limits and but a lot of times, leaders fall into the trap of talking about a lot of stuff, but solving very little in their meetings. So in their meetings are talking about stuff. And a lot of times their meetings get hijacked, because the purpose of the meeting seems to be about talk. And so people come ready to talk ready to bear their grievances ready to push their pet project. And those meetings get out of control very quickly. And you might meet for a long time. But when you leave that meeting, you're saying I didn't get to the part I really wanted to do because so many people hijack the meeting. 

If you're not careful, your meetings are subject to being hijacked.

Especially if you feel like the meetings are time to discuss stuff or to put stuff out in the open. And so yeah, we have these great discussions. Sometimes we're not so great. But we have these discussions. And they can be very cathartic, but they're not solving real problems. So that's a challenge with the way that leaders have meetings. Now, builders understand these are the pitfalls of meetings, either you're you spent a lot of time sharing things that could have been an email or you discuss stuff that may be important stuff, maybe sometimes it's not. And a lot of times that discussion gets hijacked, and nothing gets solved. And so because of that builders are very careful about how they have meetings, and I want to share with you three things that builders do that make their meeting so much more productive. The first thing is that builders commit to a meeting rhythm. So a lot of times people will meet because it's in the contract with them maybe got this prescribed, but they don't have a purpose for those meetings and builders are different. We still work, we still meet on a schedule, we have a meeting cadence, but that meeting cadence is designed to propel the workforce. So it's very strategic. 

For instance, builders have quarterly meetings every 90 days to review their 90 day progress and to set their next 90 day goals. So they complete a builders blueprint every 90 days, and that sets the direction for the work for those 90 days. Then in order to make sure that they're staying on track, they meet monthly and they just review the work. So every month, the monthly meeting is designed to say what did we do this month that worked? What didn't work? What challenges are we facing right now? How do we need to adjust our plan to meet those challenges in the coming month? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to do less of what do we need to do more of what do we need to start doing? They're considering that their progress towards that 90 day goal. And every month they are giving themselves time to reflect on how we're doing so that keeps you focused? Then builders not only meet every month, they meet every week to execute the work. So the weekly meetings are about what's the work we need to be doing next week. If we're going to meet our 90 day goals. What challenges are we facing and how can we solve those challenges so that that that that weekly meeting is really a work focused meeting and it helps everybody plan their weeks, and then just to make sure that everybody's staying on track. 

Builders also meet every day. 

For 10 to 15 minutes, they check in with their their admin team. And they say, Okay, how are we doing? Are you getting work done? What are you committing to do tomorrow? what's getting in your way that we can start considering as blockers that we can start removing so that we get better. So those meetings are about not only keeping us accountable, but showing us how do we get better at execution. If you stick to that kind of meeting, rhythm, quarterly meetings, monthly meetings, weekly meetings, and daily meetings, and you understand the role of each of those meetings, those meetings not only keep you on track, they keep you accountable, without you having to go around and chase and check and correct people and doing this and I don't know what's happening here, you know, what's going on in your school, and you didn't have to go get that information, because you're meeting rhythm, keep that information before you and you can't believe how much bandwidth that frees up for you, when you are able to have those meetings. And to know that that work is getting done, you don't have to say, Oh, I got to remember to talk to someone. 

So about that, because you know, you're going to meet with someone. So either on a daily basis, if they're part of your admin team, or on a weekly basis, if they're a part of your overall school, you know, kind of leadership team. So you don't have to worry about it, you know, there's a meeting coming up where you're going to get the information you need. And that meeting rhythm keeps everybody accountable to doing the work, because I know I've got to show up in a meeting. And I've got to say, what did I do? Did I do what I said I was going to do, and if not what got in my way, so that we can remove those blockers that are keeping us from doing this work. When you commit to that meeting rhythm, you will be astounded, and what you were able to get done. And sometimes the builders who come in to build a ship University and they learn the meeting rhythm, they start out, they just started out with the daily meeting, and then they graduate. Okay, we have the weekly meeting in the daily meeting, kind of as the gateway meeting drug. And then after they do that for a while they realize they need the monthly meeting. And then they have the quarterly meeting. 

Part of what we do at Buildership University with the quarterly sprints is get you set up for that quarterly meeting with your admin team. 

Or you can also include your admin team on that on that sprint with you. So that you're having that 90 day planning session that really sets your progress your direction for the next 90 days. So that's the first thing builders commit to a meeting rhythm. The second thing that builders do that make their meetings more productive, is that the meeting agenda is very, very focused and strategic on what work needs to be done right now and what problems need to be solved. So I've shared with you in another episode, Episode 19, entitled steal my team meeting agenda, and you go back and listen to that. But I share with you what the weekly meeting agenda looks like. And I stole that weekly meeting agenda from something called the level 10 meeting that was taught by thinking that guy named Gina wyck, in a book called traction, which he uses to help businesses stay on track. 

I love this team meeting agenda or this we can do a leadership team meeting agenda you're with whoever you're meeting with on a weekly basis to kind of do the business of your school. I love this agenda because the agenda get stuff out of the way early. What are the announcements? What are the headlines? What How are we doing and making progress towards our goal, but then the rest of the agenda is focused on ranking our biggest challenges. And we don't leave the meeting until we solved one of our biggest challenges, at least one, sometimes you have time to solve two or three. But the goal of the meeting is not to discuss the goal of the meeting is to solve. And I think that's a big mistake a lot of people make in their meetings, they spend a lot of time talking, but they never solve anything. And if you have a meeting that's tightly focused on solving problems, and every single week, you're solving your biggest challenge, and you're ranking your challenges, so you know what your biggest challenge is, then your meeting becomes much more effective and efficient. 

The first thing that Builders do is have a meeting rhythm.

The second thing the builders do is their meeting agendas are strategic, and they're focused on solving problems. Now, here's the third thing, builders, when they have meetings, about their work, they spend time looking at and analyzing and reflecting on their progress and looking for opportunities to make themselves even better. So what happens is, the more you meet, the better you get at executing your work. Let me give you an example. In the weekly meeting, we have something called a scorecard. So in builder's University, we teach you how to create a scorecard and a scorecard is a way for you to pick what data you want to be tracking for that 90 day time period for your 90 day goal. And then you create a scorecard that looks at three no more than four data points. And you are looking at those data points every single week and saying is the work we're doing moving the data points. Let me give an example. Let's say that I want to really focus on a rigor. I feel like that our teachers are not teaching to the level of rigor that they need to be teaching. So we say for the next nine Today's we're gonna really go all in on increasing the rigor of our work, not in a kind of Band Aid sort of way, but really focusing on how can we ask more rigorous questions. How can we provide more challenge and support for our students in the classroom? And then how can we make this stick? 

So this becomes a part of the way that we deliver instruction, we're getting instruction that is more focused on student thinking. So we say we want to do that. So we create a scorecard. And we say, Okay, what do we want to see at the end of 90 days, and what we want to see is we want to see more teachers, you know, teaching at a higher level of rigor. So we find a tool that can assess the level of rigor for lesson, and we start using that tool. Okay, so that's the, that's kind of the the lagging indicator, that's the the end result that we want to see, in 90 days, what are the leading indicators? So one or two things that we want to see happening in every single classroom that if teachers did that every single week, we would see a change in the rigor. So the first thing I might want is, I might want teachers to start using our rigorous unit planning template. So rather than focusing on lesson plans, we're going to get teachers to shift to unit planning. So the first leading indicator I want to see is that teachers are shifting from daily lesson planning to thinking about the entire unit, and that all teachers are using that rigorous unit planning template. And then the second thing, I think that might increase rigor as an artist do, I want to see the teachers using a more rigorous unit planning template. But I want to see in the classroom teachers, moving students to higher higher degrees of rigor, so from acquisition to application from application to assimilation, from assimilation to adaptation. So what we want to see is every single week, when I go into classrooms, I see teachers moving at least one level of rigor from where they were the week before in our classroom. So we're going to go and look at that. And so in order to track that I have to get into more classrooms every single week. So my three leading indicators might be our teachers using unit plans. When I go into classrooms, do I see teachers moving from one level of rigor to the next? And in order to do that? Am I getting into 20 classrooms a week. So those are the numbers I would attract? I'm going to put that on the scorecard. And every single week, I'm going to track those numbers. Because I believe if we do the leading indicators consistently, then we will see results in the lagging indicator. 

So that's a scorecard. 

Every week in my weekly meeting, part of my weekly team meeting agenda is to look at that scorecard, and see how we're doing. Look at that scorecard and be able to tell, are we doing the things we said we were going to do? And is it making a difference? Which means that I can adjust every single week if I'm doing what I said I was going to do? And I'm not making a difference, then I have to question whether or not it's have we picked the right thing? Should we be focusing on something else? Maybe the scorecard is telling me you know what, we're not doing what we said we're going to do. So we go back and we adjust that. So what builders do is every single week, they are tracking in their, in their meetings, how we're doing that is a dedicated time in the Mita meeting to take a look at those leading and lagging indicators. So this is not like a deep dive data meeting where we just drown in data. This is really focused data analysis based on the leading and lagging indicators that we selected for scorecards, and asking ourselves a question, okay. Are we on track? If we're not on track? Why? What's happening in the data? What are we learning? And then how do we adjust our behavior for one week to the next, in order to make that happen? And then every day those daily meetings, were saying, Okay, did we do what we say we're going to do? If not, what were our blockers? 

Then we start analyzing, okay, over the last five meetings, these same blockers are showing up every single day. Let's go back, and let's figure out why are these blockers showing up? And how do we remove these blockers? So every single meeting, what is your daily meeting, your weekly meeting, your monthly meeting your quarterly meeting, you're going to sit down and part of that agenda is to take a look at at whether or not your work is actually working? Are you moving the numbers? Is the data changing? As a result of your work? Or you're going to analyze? Are we doing what we said we were going to do? And if we're not doing what we said we're going to do, then what's keeping us from doing that? And how do we remove those barriers? If we are doing what we said we're going to do isn't making a difference. 

So just to recap, Builders do three things that make their meetings more effective than Bosses or Leaders. 

The first thing is Builders commit to a meeting rhythm, and the meeting where the Mr. Teach ik and it's focused on making sure the work gets done. The second thing that builders do is they on their agenda. They have a specific agenda that focuses on solving problems, not talking about stuff. So there is an outcome and expectation for what is what they're going to accomplish at each meeting. And because that meeting has a goal and outcome, something that they're focused on working on, that meeting becomes instantly more productive, and there's more built in accountability. Thirdly, builders hold themselves accountable in the meetings themselves walk by going over data by analyzing their work there Not just getting work done, they're looking and saying, Is this still the right work? Are we accomplishing it the right way? If we're not accomplishing it? Why aren't we accomplishing it? And that is baked into the meeting agenda. So it's not something that they do extra Oh, you know, maybe we should analyze it's no, every single time you meet, based on the purpose of that meeting, you're going to analyze whether or not what you're doing is working. And if it's not working, why isn't it working? And how do you get better? When you do these three things, a couple of things happen. 

One, you get better every single time. So every time you meet, if you go through your agenda, if you are looking at your numbers, if you are following the agendas and making sure you're getting those outcomes, if you're looking at the data, you're going to be able to detect things that that are problems before they mushroom, you're going to be able to solve things that are getting in the way. And every time you do that you get better at your work, you get better at executing. The second thing is that the meeting rhythm combined with looking at the data, combined with having goals and outcomes for each meeting mean that everyone is accountable, without you having to run behind them. If I know the meeting is coming up, and I know what the agenda is going to be every single meeting and I know the purpose of the meeting, then it allows me as a meeting participant to come prepared. And I know that there's going to come a time when I'm gonna have to speak up in that meeting. And if I don't have my stuff ready, then everybody's looking at me. And so what happens is it might happen to people once but it rarely happens twice. People hate that feeling. And you're not shaming anybody, but they feel the way that they've let everybody down because they see how what how their work, their contribution makes a wider contribution to the whole of the work that you're doing. 

There is some built in accountability. 

The third thing is that you free up a lot of bandwidth, right, instead of carrying everything in your hand and saying, Oh, I forgot to do this thing, the meeting rhythm and that discipline that it provides you helps you to free up your bandwidth to be creative about other stuff, because you're not having to carry all of this stuff in your head, you know, that if you stick with your meeting rhythm, it will come up, it will get resolved. And so you're a lot more peaceful when you go about your day. Because you know, like, if I don't know what my AP is doing that day, there's going to be a daily meeting at the end of the day where they I will find out and if they are doing the wrong work, then I can get them straight, and get them focused on the right work the next day, so I don't have to worry about it, or set up a meeting to talk to them about it, I know I'm going to see them every single day, at the daily meeting, if I am worried that the work is off track, or I have a challenge that needs to be resolved, I don't have to worry about it. Because I know the weekly meeting. 

That's the time to bring the challenges. That's the time to solve them. And I can walk out of that meeting with a solution to that challenge that we execute the following week. And that problem is gone. If If I am worried that the work is getting off track, then I don't have to worry about that. Because I know there's going to be a monthly meeting where we're going to spend time re refocusing on that work and making sure that the work is on track. If I am worried that you know, this is something we need to work on right now. But are we going to be able to stick with it the entire year. I don't worry about that. Because I know there's a quarterly meeting where we're going to do a new blueprint every single time. So I always know that the work we're doing right now is the right work for right now. Think about that. Think about how that frees you up when you can rely on your meetings, to help keep you focused, to help keep everybody accountable to help make sure that you are executing with discipline, and you don't have to worry about it. So I know meetings aren't sexy, but they are so powerful when you do them the builders way. 

Go back and listen to Episode 19. 

Talk about that weekly meeting agenda, break it down in great detail, you should put that in place as soon as possible. Everybody who's done it, they're like, amazed at how much they get done every single week, the daily standup all of that. We teach you how to do this. And we have breakdowns of these meetings inside of builder ship University, we also show you how to do this inside of builders lab. So if you really want some more help with setting up a meeting rhythm, getting the meeting agendas, making sure that they're focused, come to builders lab come to builders University, and we'll show you how to do that. And even if you don't do that, at least start setting up that meeting rhythm. Think about your quarterly meeting. Think about your monthly meeting, thinking about your weekly meeting and your daily meeting and start executing those meetings on a consistent basis. start changing is shifting your agendas.

Use the free Episode Episode 19 where I walk you through that weekly meeting agenda. Start with just putting that weekly meeting in place and just sit back and marvel at how much more work you get done. So this week, here's what I'd like for you to do. I'd like you to take a look at the meeting rhythm that you currently have in your school. Think about what meetings you have and think about how effective those meetings are just before even putting anything in place this week. All I want you to do is just look at the meetings. You're having Why are the flaws what is working, what's not working, and start thinking about how you can upgrade your meetings so that they are actually serving you. They're not a pain, they're not another thing you have to do. You look forward to those meetings because you know that you're going to get work done. And then once you've done that, start thinking about how you can upgrade your meeting, #LikeABuilder. 

That's it for today. I will talk to you next time. 

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at Buildership University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join Buildership University. Just go to Buildershipuniversity.com and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll talk to you again next time.

Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/

School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build master teachers.