A Magical Meeting Story from Alena Alasdar, a trainer, facilitator, and Technical Services Professional at Kyndryl based in Decatur, Georgia.
Welcome to Magical Meetings Stories, a series where I chat with professional facilitators, meeting practitioners, leaders, and CEOs across industries about their meeting culture. We dive deep into a specific magical meeting they’ve run, including their approach to facilitation design, and their tips and tricks for running meetings where people thrive.
Alena Alasdar is a facilitator, trainer, and technical services professional from Decatur Georgia with a focus on developing streamlined processes.
I spoke with Alena about the Daily Check-In meeting, the reason behind it, and her proudest moments from the meeting.
The Daily Check-In is a meeting designed to facilitate the process of streamlining workflows.
While this Daily Check-In meeting changes with each day, the focus is to align all team members and refine logical processes.
The initial Daily Check-In began as a way to answer the questions of Alena’s junior team members. Now, the Check-In occurs regularly, allowing her team members the opportunity to check in with one another and improve collaborations on all projects going forward.
Let’s take a closer look at Alena’s process to learn what made the meeting magical.
In a Daily Check-In meeting, the facilitator works to bring all participants on to the same page, answer challenging questions, and ensure all team members have the resources they need to complete their job.
In this meeting, the facilitator will select the following:
- 30 Minutes
- Four to eight team members
- Streamlined ideation
- A new workflow
The Daily Check-In is usually attended by four to eight team members.
Plan the Workshop:
Before the session begins, the facilitator will prepare with the following steps:
- Draft the process
- Identify workflow steps
- Determine which team members should attend the meeting
- Process Ideation
Before the meeting, the facilitator will ensure the session runs as efficiently as possible by preparing a draft of the process and workflow steps. This way, the team can kick off the meeting immediately with ideation and problem-solving.
Alena prepared for this Daily Check-In by designing a skeleton of the deliverables and collecting all the questions in OneNote for the team to address during the meeting. Before the session, Alena asked participants to use the green “checkmark” emoji or red “x” emoji to determine if the team needed to meet.
The facilitator will begin the Daily Check-In with process ideation. The facilitator will start the session by calling on others for their input. This allows team members to focus on “quick hits and quick wins” as they brainstorm, learn about new tools, and pool resources.
In a Daily Check-In meeting, Alena aims to avoid the back and forth that occurs in typical team meetings. In this particular session, Alena streamlined what might’ve been a week-long process to a half-hour meeting, preventing the fruitless conversations and hours lost to unproductivity that come with meaningless meetings.
As she explained the origin of the Daily Check-In, Alena shared the power of designing a meeting that encouraged communication and collaboration:
“We had a lot of open issues, and we found that there were two senior members of the team and there were three new kids… every time we tried to do something, they’d hit us with questions.
So we said, “Wait a minute, let’s do this. Let’s put the questions in our OneNote. And then we’ll meet every morning. We’ll go over all your questions will together. We’ll come up with strategies for addressing things.”
Documentation is the next phase in a Daily Check-In meeting. During this part of the meeting, team members will begin to refine and document the processes they are designing. As the participants’ roles rotate in every Daily Check-In meeting, this phase ensures everyone is on the same page and that all opinions and ideas get recorded.
During this Daily Check-In session, Alena used Slack to develop and document the workflow. This way, all participants could participate in real-time. With WebX, remote team members from across the country and India were able to work on the process together.
“We’re all equals in that meeting, and that’s one of the things that makes it work. Everybody has got a say, everybody’s got a voice, and it really works well.”
As the Daily Check-In comes to a close, the facilitator will ensure that all team members reach a consensus and agree on the best next steps. Then, the facilitator identifies team members that may need extra support and schedules a one-on-one session to meet with them.
In Alena’s meeting, the team discussion occurs by order of seniority: the boss goes first, the team lead goes second, and the rest of the team goes in alphabetical order. This methodical approach ensures that everyone’s voice is heard.
As the role of team members changes with each meeting. Every participant gets the chance to share their opinions:
“We’re able to say what we mean and mean what we say and bring issues forward without worrying about any politics.”
As Alena closed the session, she identified which team members needed additional training and planned to meet with them separately. This way, all team members could end the meeting as efficiently and productively as possible while ensuring that those in need received support outside of the main meeting.
The most magical meetings make engagement a top priority by allowing team members to connect. In the Daily Check-In meetings, Alena can keep her team on the same page at all times. With her successful check-in system, she constantly refines a workflow that best meets the needs of her team.
When asked about the potential pitfalls of the meeting, she shared that at times, some of her team members require additional training. Instead of taking the time to handle the training during the meeting, Alena takes the discussion offline. This way, she ensures the Daily Check-In doesn’t exceed 30 minutes while taking time to address potential pitfalls before they become major problems.
As Alena considered the power of an efficient workflow, I asked her what she would change if she was really bold. Before designing the Daily Check-In in its current form, Alena used to hold the meeting every day. Alena realized that the team would get on the call every morning, even when they didn’t need to meet.
By making the bold decision to check in first and ask if a meeting was needed, Alena refined the Daily Check-In to what it is today: an efficient, 30-minute streamlining session.
I asked Alena what meeting moment made her the proudest and she spoke about the efficiency of the meeting design:
“I love how we were able to say we may not need this every day, and let’s put some workflow in place so that nobody has to go, “Do you need a meeting?”… The workflow fires off, we’re reminded, and then we just do a quick answer…I love the way things get done.”
Do you have your own Magical Meeting Story to tell?
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