Judy Dobles, General Management Consulting


Recent Posts


  • Last week I had lunch with a wonderful work colleague that I had not seen in a while.  It is the type of relationship where you immediately start talking and it feels like only yesterday you were working together.  Sharon has always had a quick wit and as we were talking about an organizational situation she said, “They need more gas.”  Uncertain of what she meant, I asked.  Sharon said, “You know, goals, accountability and structure.  If organizations are not thriving and succeeding it means they need more G.A.S.”

    I loved the idea of G.A.S..  It is simple, easy to remember and gets right to the heart of leading an organization.  Goals are the starting point.  An organization needs to know where it is going and what it is aiming for.  The very best leaders set goals that are hard enough to be a challenge but not so hard that you feel defeated before you even start the journey.  Next the leader must make it very clear who is accountable for what.  Although teamwork is vital to the success of any organization, specific goals need to be assigned to specific individuals.  You cannot give individuals the opportunity to point at someone else and say, “It is their fault, not mine that the goal was not achieved.”  Lastly, but most importantly in my mind, you have to have structure to monitor progress and implement corrective action plans as needed.  The best structure is a periodic work session, at least monthly if not weekly, where the results are reviewed.  The work session must have a set agenda, an action item register and a dashboard that can be reviewed.   The meeting should be focused on areas that are failing to meet the goals.  Although people should be commended for meeting and exceeding goals – the real work must be focused on areas that are behind.

    If you have worked long enough, you will have experienced what it feels like to both exceed annual goals and fall short of annual goals.  The strength of a team is to rally together and help each other when needed.

    I had two key thoughts after my lunch with Sharon:

    1. When you find a team or organization not performing as expected, see if they need more G.A.S.
    2. Many times we look to the famous leadership gurus for the answers we are seeking; when in fact the people we work with daily have the wisdom and talent to solve the complex issues we face

    Note:  to learn more about Sharon Kruger visit her LinkedIn page;


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  • Talking is easy; actually doing something is the hard part.  I am sure that everyone has experienced a meeting where a lot of good dialogue happened, good ideas were exchanged and healthy debate ensued.  At the end of the meeting, everyone concurred it had been a good meeting.  However, after a time, it started to feel like the same topics were discussed again and again, but little progress was made.

    The answer is very simple: an action register.   Everyone has good intentions, but an action register raises the level of accountability and keeps the team focused.  It ensures forward progress.

    The action register that has worked well for the teams I have been a part of contains 5 pieces of information:

    [1] The Action Item:  A brief description of what needs to be done.

    [2]Person responsible:  The person taking the responsibility for the item, even when it may require the work of others to fully complete.

    [3]Due Date:  The desired completion date.

    [4]Status:  This facilitates the discussion at the subsequent meetings. Our team agreed on the following categories – not started, on plan, need to catch-up, needs intervention and completed/closed.

    [5]Comments:  Additional information that the team feels important to note.

    We made it a point to review the action register at every team meeting and captured updates.  New action items were recorded during the meeting.  For us the action register was kept in a team folder on the company network and accessible to everyone.  An alternative would be to send it to everyone at the end of the meeting.

    The action register helped our team stay organized.  Action items only made it to the register when we all agreed it was important work to be done.  The person responsible volunteered for the task and set a reasonable due date.  We were all accountable to each other for ensuring the action items were completed.  It also aided in setting priorities.  It is a fact of life that many times there are just too many things on the “to do list”.  It is impossible to do absolutely everything.  The action register helps the team stay focused on what really needs to get done.  And in the end, you have the sense of making forward progress instead of just talking.

  • Perusing the internet recently, there appears to be a lot of energy around improving meetings. Atomic Object is holding stand-up meetings to help speed them along – which I heartily endorse. While participating in conversations, the topic of meetings frequently comes up and not in a favorable light. So what can be done about it? Here are 7 easy steps that can be used immediately.

    [1] The leader of the meeting must have a clear and specific stated purpose for the meeting which should be shared ahead of time with all attendees. If that does not exist, there is no sense in holding the meeting.

    [2] There should be an agenda which is published ahead of time. Each agenda item should note who will lead the discussion, what the end result of the discussion will be and approximately how long the agenda item will take. The length of the meeting should be determined by the length of each agenda item. If you need 40 minutes, plan for that. Not 30 minutes or 60 minutes, which seem to be standard default duration for meetings.

    [3] Pre-work may be required on the part of the attendees. Ensure they are aware of it and have the proper time to prepare.

    [4] Use an action register. Meetings should not be just information sharing. There are many other ways to do that. The entire point of holding a meeting should be for people to work together and accomplish something. However, all work cannot be done at once. There will be action items and the action register allows proper follow-up. An action register contains: the action item, the person responsible for the action, the date assigned and the due date.

    [5] Create meeting ground-rules everyone can agree on. This brings order to meetings and opens the door for useful participant feedback during the meeting. Having the team create their own set of ground-rules builds camaraderie and trust. Some of my favorite ground-rules are:
    • I will only make statements that add value and stick to the purpose at hand.
    • I will behave openly with others.
    • I will focus on a one-conversation concept.
    • I will look for “how we can” rather than “why we can’t.”
    • I will honor my commitments.
    • I will offer alternative proposals to those things with which I disagree. But when I leave the room I will support the majority.

    [6] The chairperson must be a leader during the meeting. They are ultimately responsible for keeping the session on track. They need to know when to speed things along and when to give more time to a topic than was originally allocated. They need to ensure participants are full participants, not texting, playing Angry Birds or otherwise multi-tasking.

    [7] Appoint a note-taker and publish the notes right after the meeting. Meeting notes should be a summary of decisions and actions decided upon in the meeting. It is extremely helpful in the case of weekly team meetings. It allows people that could not attend to quickly get up to speed. The note-taker can be a rotating responsibility.

    In summary, meetings are a necessary part of the business world. However, they must be crisp, concise and to the point. If you do not like how meetings are being run, use this list to make some suggestions. I think it will be appreciated by all attendees.

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