Maliasili Reader: Establish the right management routines, and get things done

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Plan better meetings - it pays off! 

This article and great infographic make the case as to why it’s so critical you spend time and energy on running effective meetings. For example:

  • 15% of an organisation’s time is spent in meetings.
  • Executives consider 67% of meetings to be failures.
  • 92% confessed to multitasking during meetings.
  • Video calls improve focus and engagement and increase team productivity. 4% multitask on video calls, 57% on audio calls.

Another study found similar results. In a survey of 182 senior managers across a range of industries: 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.

5 tips on how to avoid virtual fatigue 

We’re all feeling it, screen-time overload! This article shares some of the drivers of this fatigue as well as 5 easy-to-adopt strategies to help combat it with your teams.

Ideas and Inspiration

How to get things done: MANAGEMENT ROUTINES 

Management is all about establishing routines that enable teams and organizations to get their work done. Whether you’re operating remotely, returning to the office, or trialing a hybrid approach, it’s essential that you establish, maintain and improve your management routines with your team. One simple way to do that is to map out the different management touch-points (aka: meetings) that enable groups to communicate, make plans, and hold each other accountable. Share this with your team, stick to the plan, and be consistent.

We get asked a lot about what management actually looks like, so we thought we’d share a glimpse into our own management routine.

1. Not all meetings are the same - determine which meeting you need, with whom, and when.

Here are the different types of management meetings we hold:

  • 1:1 Meetings: All team members should have regular (typically weekly) 1:1 meetings with their direct supervisor. While these meetings are useful for quick updates and touching base, the real purpose of these meetings is to troubleshoot challenging issues and for the supervisor to provide feedback and coaching support. Team members should come to these meetings with a prepared agenda and clear questions around issues that need advice and troubleshooting. Materials that require review should be sent at least 24 hours in advance. Here’s a great short article on holding effective 1:1s.
    • Regular feedback: Don’t wait for a meeting to give your colleague feedback. Feedback should be given as immediately as possible, and in a way that’s productive and helpful to the person receiving it.  
  • Weekly Africa Team Meetings: Each week we have an “Africa Team Meeting,” which we aim to have run for 40 – 55 minutes. The purpose of this meeting is for the Africa team (mostly all in the same time zone and engaged in programmatic work) to check in with each other, share quick updates on what everyone is doing, and to identify opportunities for people to link up or collaborate. We take turn chairing these meetings, and notes are kept on a single, shared Google document.
  • Weekly Senior Management Team Meetings: Each week our Senior Management Team meets to discuss higher-level, strategic topics. This is a space where key decisions get discussed. Topics that get covered include, reviewing work progress, HR matters, fundraising, and new opportunities. Here’s a blog post about when we worked with our partner - GZT - to set up a senior leadership team tailored to their needs.
  • Global Team Meetings: Every two weeks (previously this was monthly, but we’ve changed this to more frequent check-ins during COVID), Maliasili’s entire team comes together to share and receive updates about the organization. These are also opportunities for team building and connecting. Yes, that’s possible remotely!
  • Quarterly Team Meetings: At the end of each quarter we connect as a team to discuss our greatest achievements and challenges from the previous quarter. This meeting is meant for learning, reflection and sharing ideas. These meetings last between 1 – 1.5 hours.
  • Portfolio Learning Meetings: Every two weeks, the Portfolio team meets to share, support, and learn from each other by reflecting on what’s working with their partners and what’s not.
    • Case Clinics: This is a space for team members to highlight a specific problem they’re facing, and bring it into focus on a call with one or two other members. It’s a deep dive into the context of the problem, and requires the team to come in with an open mind for problem solving.
Note: every organization is different in its structure and needs, but the above gives you a glimpse into the different types of meetings that can be held and the frequency in which they take place.

2. Map it out so it’s clear and part of your culture.

We’ve created a visual guide for what our team management and meeting system looks like. Everyone on our team has access to this and knows what to expect (we also put all meetings in Google Calendar).

3. Avoid ‘meeting dread’ - get the most out of your meetings.

Research shows that unproductive meetings can cost organisations money and time. Don’t hold meetings for the sake of holding meetings.

Best practices for effective meetings: 

  • Agenda – Clarify objectives and desired outputs before the meeting. Identify any decisions that need to be made. Put it in writing and share.
  • Review attendees – Will the right people who can make decisions and help achieve objectives be there? Are there extraneous people?
  • Schedule the meeting – Use technology to your advantage (Google calendar) and make it easy for people to remember meetings and how to join them. For example - put a zoom link in a google calendar invite! (more on tools below)
  • Prepare – Effective meetings mean everyone knows their role and is ready to share expected information.
  • Roles – It should be clear ahead of time who is leading the meeting. Somebody should be made responsible for keeping time, and keeping things moving. If you need notes, assign someone ahead of time to take notes and share around at the end of the meeting. Be clear on the level of notes required—this could range from capturing action items to detailed minutes.
  • Check-in and check-out – It is valuable to get everyone talking at the outset, so one way to do that is to pose a quick question for everyone to answer. Especially remotely, when you lose face to face interactions, normalizing sharing and checking-in on people’s emotional and mental state can be extremely valuable.
  • Stay focused – Use a “parking lot” for off topic issues. It is easy for discussions to get derailed. Maintain focus on the agenda. Make sure there are clear action items recorded.
  • Start and end on time – Respect people’s time and do your best not to run over the scheduled time.
  • Follow up – Communicate after the meeting the clear action items and next steps for engagement.


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Madeleine Traynor

Senior Design, Communications, & Operations Associate, Maliasili

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