February 3rd, 2009 08:50 EST
Don't Your Business Meetings Deserve Your "A Game"?
The trial is over, the verdict has been rendered, and I`ve been released from jury service.
As I wrote last week (http://tinyurl.com/byxveb), I was selected as a juror in a criminal trial in my county in California. At first, like everyone else, I tried to get out of it. But the judge told us that he wouldn`t let us out, in part because the founding fathers of our country sacrificed their lives so that defendants could have a jury by their peers. And he added that it wouldn`t be a jury by his peers if all the jurors were retired people. So I acquiesced and went along with it.
As it turns out, the experience of being a juror was life changing. It was a remarkable experience that I wouldn`t trade for anything, and my appreciation of it was a surprise. The judicial process is remarkable creating a random group of people: some black, some Asian, some Hispanic, some white. Some of the jurors were more educated, some less educated; some were self-employed, most were employed by corporations or some branch of the government; and some of the people were older, some were younger; but one common element held us all together. The seriousness of the responsibility to listen carefully to the facts that were presented so that we could make a decision that would effect the life of a man who was on trial was the common bond.
The gravity of the decision was startling. This was a criminal case with a weapons charge and the penalty would be serious if the defendant was found guilty.
What was startling is that every juror, regardless of their background, regardless of their education, regardless of their vocation, came into the jury box every day with their "A Game". Everybody was on time every single time we met. Every juror took careful notes and paid intense attention. No one slept. No one drew pictures or played word games. No one appeared to be daydreaming.
Contrast that with a typical business meeting, where people show up at all different times and they have all different kinds of excuses for why they are late or absent. In business, there always seem to be higher priorities than the task at hand. This element of focus by the jury was an extraordinary feat all by itself.
The judge gave us very strict rules about not talking to one another and not discussing the case. No one became friends, and although we exchanged niceties, I never noticed that anyone violated those rules. We all sat patiently day after day while the material was presented to us. We all took notes. In fact, most of us took dozens of pages of notes for later review. Finally, when the case was given to the jury for deliberation, each of the 12 people was extremely deliberate in their contemplation of the facts and in their evaluation of the circumstances that led to the outcome.
Again, contrast this to a business meeting. How much notes do people take? How close attention did people pay to presentations that are being made to them? How hard do people try? How serious do people take the outcome of any decision that needs to be made? Clearly, there`s one person or two people in a business that always take things seriously. There`s usually somebody who owns the business, and everybody else comes 60%, 70%, or 80% prepared to play ball. That wasn`t how this jury operated. Every person on the jury brought 100% to the table. Everybody treated each other with respect. Everyone had a chance to talk and everyone had a chance to lead the discussion on topics that were relevant to their concerns. Our jury handled itself in the most democratic way, and it could serve as a model for how juries contemplate other types of circumstances.
Regardless of the outcome that we reached, it was reached with extreme care. But my purpose for my readers is to consider how we can expect more from each other in a business setting. Everybody needs to bring their "A Game" all the time. I`m one who says if you can`t bring your "A Game", stay home. I only want people on my team who bring their "A Game". If there`s a day you`re not feeling well, stay home, and if it happens frequently, get off of our team.
That`s an expectation that`s reasonable for all of us who lead businesses. If you are on a business team, you have the right to expect that of your teammates. Granted, businesses are not the same environment as a courtroom because the judge had a lot of power over all of us, and we all recognized that. But we need to bring the same values of care, consideration, seriousness and respect to our business environments.
We need to be on time, and be prepared, and take notes, and listen carefully, and be ready to contribute to an outcome, and take every outcome very seriously, because especially during these very difficult economic times, we have to make sure that we`re being superlative and bringing our "A Game" to the table. At the end of the day, we have to take responsibility for our outcomes.
So, in order for you and your team to bring your "A Game" to the table every day, do the following:
1. Show up on time, be prepared, listen carefully, and take whatever notes are necessary. Make a habit of this and do it all the time. Be a role model.
2. Expect of your teammates that they bring their "A Game" to the table every time. Let people know that if they can`t bring their "A Game" to the table, don`t bother showing up.
3. Expect of yourself the most and the best that you`re capable of. That way, when you expect that of others, you can serve both as a role model and example of what you`re "A Game" looks like.
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About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, advisor and faculty member of the iLearningGlobal community. To bring Joel into your company, please visit http://www.joelblock.com or http://www.growth-logic.com. Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship - http://www.entrepreneur-hub.com. And finally, for film makers: http://www.filmfundingblog.com - our newest project.