Staff Meetings, Affiliative Leadership, and High-Performing Teams

Manager TLDR - Issue 47

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New week, new management tips 👋

In today’s newsletter, we’re covering… 

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16 do’s and don’ts of staff meetings (12 min read), Fellow Blog

TLDR: Staff meetings are an essential part of running a successful company. They create an opportunity for leaders to push information such as news and changes… and pull information such as feedback and ideas from employees. Here are 3 best practices to remember and share with your team:

  1. Use a consistent format: Having a consistent agenda helps team members know what to expect and come prepared. At Fellow, our weekly staff meeting template includes: celebrations, announcements, presentations, questions, and shoutouts!
  2. Involve everyone in preparing the agenda: If you want your team to be engaged in meetings, make sure the agenda includes items that reflect their needs. Another way to do this is to encourage attendees to add comments and reactions asynchronously (before and after the meeting).
  3. Use the parking lot technique: Get into the habit of jotting new discussion items down and setting them aside for another time (or the end of the meeting) if they weren’t already a part of the agenda.

“People perform better when they are comfortable with each other, which affords a greater degree of candor and mutual interest. Your job as a leader, particularly when people may not know each other, is to make them feel connected so you can have a productive meeting. Remind everyone to respect each other by not interrupting and to only say what they’re comfortable sharing with the group.” 

– Keith Ferrazzi

😌 The art of not taking things personally (6 min read), The Founder Coach

TLDR: Emotional generosity is the ability to see past behaviours that we don’t understand and proactively look for compassionate ways to explain them. It’s easy to do this for young children: if they start crying, we wonder whether they are hungry or tired. Sadly, it’s harder to do this for our co-workers. Here are 3 useful patterns that can help you nurture more generous interpretations — and get to the root of issues faster:

  1. Overreaction is often triggered by unresolved issues: When you notice someone overreacting, broaden your focus and get curious about what else might be going on. Maybe something about the situation is triggering an issue in their personal life, or an unresolved trauma from their childhood.
  2. Blame is often driven by anger: When you notice someone blaming others for their problems, help that person to label their underlying emotions. Some studies have shown that it takes about 90 seconds for negative emotions to dissipate — and often when the anger subsides, the arguments change too.
  3. Avoidance is often driven by insecurity: Avoidance is often a defence mechanism against fear of failure or rejection. When you notice someone avoiding something important, try to encourage them to talk about it. Often they know they’re avoiding it and need some support to see it through.

“In Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication, he explains that every negative emotion is the result of an unmet need. However, few of us actually know how to put that need into words. Rosenberg suggests that labelling the universal human need can be therapeutic, or even transformational.” 

– Dave Bailey

🤝 Affiliative Leadership: Characteristics every manager needs to master (7 min read), Fellow Blog

TLDR: Affiliative leadership (one of 6 leadership styles highlighted by Daniel Goleman) is centred around putting people first. These leaders bring a perspective that promotes positivity and team-building. Affiliative leaders also focus on conflict resolution, while creating personal connections between employees and their managers as a way to build a sense of community and trust. Here are our top 3 tips for affiliative leaders:

  1. Use a balanced approach: Provide praise when employees do well, but also make sure to give constructive feedback to motivate them to succeed in their performance and day-to-day responsibilities. 
  2. Don’t ignore underperformance: Don’t let your focus on team building and the emotional well-being of your team blindside you to performance and productivity. Keep track of how your team is performing and let them know of ways they can improve. 
  3. Train your team on conflict resolution: Take the time to train your team on how to resolve their own conflicts in a straightforward and professional manner. This way, you don’t have to spend so much time and energy putting out emotional fires or disagreements. 

“Authoritative leaders mobilize people toward a vision. Affiliative leaders create emotional bonds and harmony. Democratic leaders build consensus through participation. Pacesetting leaders expect excellence and self-direction. And coaching leaders develop people for the future. Research indicates that leaders who get the best results don’t rely on just one leadership style; they use most of the styles in any given week.”

– Daniel Goleman 

🔁 The culture of process (9 min read), LeadDev

TLDR: Good process creates consistency that removes unnecessary decision-making and helps things move faster. Bad process removes creativity, stifles freedom, and adds unnecessary overheads through rigidity. When considering organizational change, Cate Huston (Engineering Director at DuckDuckGo and Supermanagers guest) thinks about 3 characteristics of process:

  1. Process as an agreement about how we work: Processes that function as an agreement about the way your team works help people to know what they can expect from each other (or in general).
  2. Process as a way to answer questions: As organizations grow, there’s more and more value to being able to consistently answer questions like, ‘who is working on this’, ‘how’s this going?’, ‘when might I expect it to be done?’ 
  3. Process as culture: Much like how evolution accentuates certain characteristics and eliminates others, processes that determine office culture often reinforce (or undermine) an organization’s stated values. It might be how you structure meetings to make sure everyone speaks. Or how a performance cycle promotes and supports a growth mindset and continuous improvement.

“Real change is both individual and systematic. Process changes systems, and shifts in mindset change individuals. Addressing both together is key to creating meaningful organizational change. It doesn’t really matter what processes you execute if people don’t believe in them, and any mindset you create will be short-lived if it’s consistently undermined by process.” 

– Cate Huston

🗓 Meeting Template of the Week

📌 Company Meeting Policy [Template]

Set clear expectations around meeting habits and behaviours by sharing this meeting policy template with your fellow employees.


🎙 New on the Supermanagers podcast

We interview leaders from all walks of life to tease out the habits, thought patterns, and experiences that help them be extraordinary at the fine craft of management.

Episode 62Daniel Terhorst-North explains why, contrary to popular belief, managers don’t manage people, but instead, are the individuals in charge of designing environments and systems of work where employees can be more productive.

Episode 63Kieran Flanagan (SVP of Marketing at Hubspot) shares the three categories of people that make up fast-growing companies – builders, creators, and operators – and which category leaders fall into!


… and that’s a wrap!  We hope that the content we curated inspires you to continue growing as a leader!

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Thanks for being part of our community,

Manuela & the Fellow.app team

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