Thursday, July 20, 2006

Daily Morning Meetings - Make multi-cultural teams perform

In my earlier articles on making multi-cultural teams work, I had talked about some of the steps needed to create a high performance teams. One of the points I made in that article was the importance of the communication skills needed by the team members. But having above average communication skills alone is not enough. The team leader should take few more steps to ensure that the members are communicating effectively during the forming, norming and storming stages of team development.

In this article, I will write about one very effective technique to make multi-cultural teams work. I call it daily morning meetings.

Effective communications

The biggest bane of multi-cultural teams is that inter-team communication is stifled - leading to chronic communication problems and that results in lack of shared accountability. The team leader is then left to grapple with turf wars instead of dealing with strategic & operational challenges. This results in wastage of team expertise and energy, lack of shared accountability - which in-turn results in personalizing the problem: "It is 'his' problem - so he has to fix it"

To cut through this issue, the solution is a daily morning meeting. The basic idea is very simple, the team leader calls for a brief meeting of all team members at the beginning of the day' work. The team discusses the tasks, targets for the day, reviews yesterday's work and plans the days work. All decisions are made/reviewed in front of all the team members. Any disputes/differences are resolved during this meeting. These meetings ensure that hard conversations happen - issues are brought out in open and accountability is shared. All members feel responsible for the team's results.

Meeting procedure

Several times in the past, I had initiated daily team meetings. The entire team meets every morning, every day at the same place and same time. There are no preset agenda for this meeting. Instead everyone focuses on the task done the day before, the task at hand and the challenges that must be overcome. If there are new members joining the team, they are introduced to rest of the team. The team leader may or may not run the meeting. Members take turns to speak - thus ensure that every member gets a chance to speak. Issues raised by members are resolved immediately (if possible).

Note: In case of geographically dispersed teams, the meetings are conducted over a t-con.

The ground rules:

  • Anyone can put anything for discussion. The issue need not be related to his/her area of responsibility. Everyone are free to comment on every issue raised - even if its not their area of responsibility.
  • Once issues are raised, decisions have to be taken to resolve the issues. Implementation plans are also discussed and agreed upon. In case of sensitive issues, consensus between team members have to arrived at.
  • Once an issue is fully vetted, the team leader determines the decision rule that will govern it. He decides whether he will make the final call, whether a particular individual or subgroup will make it, or whether it will be made by group consensus.
  • Changing one's mind, even in the middle of the conversation, is OK, and even respected. Not having an opinion on an issue is also OK.
  • All facts are openly discussed. Participants can raise the subject in the next meeting if the issues are not resolved.


Team members feel responsible for the organization. Problem faced by any individual member becomes a team problem. By inviting expertise and skills from all members - a richer & a better solution can be found for the existing problems.

Team members are encouraged to do their work better - with inputs from other members.

Miscommunication is minimized, intra team conflicts, turf protection, and second-guessing are dramatically reduced. Difficult conversations, tough issues, cultural differences are brought out and issues are resolved openly.

Closing thoughts

Morning meetings work the best in integrating a multi-cultural teams during its initial stages - team forming, team norming and team storming. Once the team is in the performing mode, daily meetings are not necessary. At that point, daily meetings become a hindrance and must be stopped.

In case of a geographically dispersed teams, the daily meetings has to be scheduled at a convenient time for all members to attend. These meetings must be held over a teleconference so that team members can attend the meetings even from their homes.

However for best results, a face-to-face meetings are ideal. Budget permitting, the entire team must be assembled in one place during the initial stages. Once the team works out the clinks and starts performing, members can go back to their respective offices.

1 comment:

Sarah Hall said...

I agree with you that a face-to-face meetings are ideal for achieving the best results! You're to be on the same page with your executive and co-workers to become professional, results-driven and successful! Order, accessible at, to gain more achievement in your academic career!