Running Effective Meetings

Running Effective Meetings

By Ben Tootill

One thing that people often complain about in the workplace is boring meetings. If you were to ask people to rank what frustrates them most about work, I predict that poorly run meetings would rank somewhere near the top.

“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”  Elon Musk

Ineffective meetings have somehow become the norm in the modern corporate setting, so what’s going on?

When done well, meetings can lift spirits, improve morale and increase productivity, but when delivered poorly, meetings suck the enthusiasm and engagement right out of us.

I remember one place I worked that made an industry out of meetings. Managers were spending 70% of their week in meeting after meeting – these meetings were poorly delivered, repetitive and soul destroying. It’s no surprise that engagement, sales performance and retention were declining year on year.

You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question”
Bill Gates

But meetings aren’t inherently bad, what we call boring meetings are simply poorly led and lack structure. Meetings can and should be an opportunity to learn, inform, motivate, collaborate, clarify and drive performance.

Here are some tips for having better meetings;

1. Be clear on your intent and purpose for the meeting – there must be a point to the meeting, be clear on your core message and frame up the context and relevance for everyone at the start.

2. Start and finish on time – ever heard the quote “time is our most precious commodity”? It may seem obvious, but some people are notorious for wasting time – don’t let it happen.

3. Follow these rules when planning what you will saySmall beats beat big – don’t use big fancy words in your meetings like “fastidious” or “vitriolic”, they doesn’t impress anyone, and no one will understand what you are talking about.

Short beats long – nothing puts people to sleep faster than someone who rambles on in a meeting. Keep things short, and if you can use fewer words to get the message across – do.

Simple beats complex – distil what you need to say into simple terms, limit numbers to “the” numbers and fit your core message into a single statement. The goal of a meeting is never to confuse, it is to create clarity and inspire action.

– increased productivity, morale and commitment

– improved team effectiveness and co-operation

– increased openness to change and enhances the effectiveness of complex organisations.


For more tips

Read Forbes Article:


Management – Motivating Teams

Management – Motivating Teams

By Ben Tootill

Keeping your team motivated through tough times can be challenging, and with the pace of work only increasing and disruption & change becoming the norm, the task of keeping our people motivated and engaged in the workplace can seem daunting.

Managers often struggle with the idea of motivating their teams, and often resort to command-and-control type competition such as setting individual bonus targets which pits individuals against each other. Unfortunately this type of strategy tends to have the opposite of the desired effect as the nature of work itself is interdependent and we need to collaborate and work together to achieve results.

Focus on the 3 P's

Instead, there are some simple but counterintuitive things that managers can do to help boost motivation in the workplace. Focus on these 3 Ps:

Progress – A study of over 12,000 days of data shows that managers can help make their employees happier and more successful at work by removing obstacles to progress and celebrating small wins. Read more about here

Purpose – Intrinsic motivation researchers have demonstrated that we experience up to triple the levels of motivation, engagement and productivity when our work is centred on positive meaning markers, or why our work matters to us. Help your team connect to their intrinsic motivation for their work vs extrinsic rewards & competition.

Positivity – A study by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson and mathematician Marcial Losada found that work teams with a 3:1 Positive to Negative ratio in their interactions, were significantly more productive and engaged than workgroups that did not reach this ratio – In other words it pays to keep your conversations & interactions within your team positive.



The Importance of Building Trust in Virtual Teams

The Importance of Building Trust in Virtual Teams

By Nicola Blocley

In 2019, almost all of us have had experience working in a virtual team – a 2018 global study of executives from major organisations found that 89% of respondents work on a virtual team, and 27% are on at least four virtual teams. The flexibility that virtual team work provides is undeniably a significant benefit – for us at Capability Group it means we are able to work on projects with our team members based in our Sydney and Singapore offices, as well as our Roxburgh and Ngatimoti offices and anyone who is travelling, without everyone needing to gather in a meeting room in our Auckland office. However, with 84% of respondents to the survey reporting that virtual communication is more difficult than in-person communication, how can we ensure that our virtual teams are built on the same foundation of trust that we are able to foster in physical teams?

Research into virtual teams across a range of industries shows that interpersonal trust can help overcome many of challenges virtual teams face. Trust improves collaboration and knowledge sharing, coordination, performance, and is overall a critical success factor for virtual teams.

Managers of virtual teams also need to try to develop deeper forms of trust as early as possible.

Since leaders of virtual teams don’t have the luxury of regular physical interactions to build trust with their team members, they often need to rely on swift trust to begin with. However, managers of virtual teams also need to try to develop deeper forms of trust as early as possible. Some ways to achieve this include:

1. Create an internal website or team page where team members can see their colleagues’ credentials, experience and other personal information.

2. Arrange one or two face-to-face team building meetings where the team members share information about their training and skills to develop deeper forms of trust.

3. Using a social networking site, whether it be internal (like Slack or Teams) or external (a Facebook group) can be particularly beneficial to reinforce trust development processes by enabling the building of a shared context.

By following updates and discussing shared interests, team members become aware of what is going on within the team and get to know each other. Additionally, using agile techniques can facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing and trust between members of distributed teams.

Virtual team leaders need to consciously set out to build trust with their team. Team training can address team breakdowns and expand team capabilities. Team members can benefit from one-on-one coaching from their team leader about their performance and the team’s mission. And, team leaders can (and should) be trained on managing virtual teams.

As Patrick Lencioni has demonstrated through the Five Dysfunctions, having trust in your team – whether virtual or face-to-face, is crucial to being able to achieve high performance.

For more on building trust within virtual teams, contact Capability Group and refer to this article.

Management & Leadership

Management & Leadership

By Ben Tootill

I recently re-read an awesome book called First, Break all the Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Kurt Coffman. The book is based on research conducted by Gallup on over a million employees and 80,000 managers. It outlines the common characteristics of great managers from around the world and the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.

Gallup found that they could measure employee engagement based on the answers to the following questions:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?

For the full 12 questions, read the book 

The book is excellent and essential reading for anyone in a leadership or HR role, it’s where the idea came up that managers trump companies or ‘people don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses’.

It was first published in May 1999 – fast forward to 2019, and despite the numerous research articles, books and information available everywhere, we are still seeing many organisations struggle with engagement and productivity.

According to Gallup in 2016, only 33% of employees in the United States were engaged, and employee engagement as a whole only increased by 3% from 2012-2016.

We know that managers have a huge impact on engagement, performance and productivity in the workplace – so what exactly are the key skills managers need to be successful in 2019 and beyond?

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is critical – managers must be able to not take things personally and forge ahead with plans without worrying about the impact on their ego, they must focus on progress and deal with set backs constructively in the workplace.

Cultural Intelligence

Future workplaces will be diverse and global. Managers will be required to become adept at appreciating and leveraging the creative resources within their teams to create maximum value for their customers and stakeholders.


Due to the speed of change, managers need to be agile and embrace and celebrate change while learning new approaches, markets and technology quickly.


With a multigenerational and multicultural workforce, managers need to build connection and trust quickly within their teams. They need to collaborate with and work alongside their employees, getting to know them and helping them acquire new skills and leverage their strengths.

Leadership skills

Traditional leadership styles are being replaced. The ego-centric managerial approach is no longer sustainable. Effective managers are now collaborative contributors, who focus on team development and help create psychological safety within their teams.


For more on leadership skills, view this Ted talk:

Management Programme

change management

Time to bring creativity into change management

Time to bring creativity into change management

There is a lot of change management methodology, both off the shelf and bespoke, out there to support significant change initiatives in organisations. The resulting template driven approach to managing the changes associated with IT implementations and organisation and process re-design projects can at times under-deliver.

We believe it’s time to bring a bit of creativity and innovation into organisation change programmes and involve team members in designing both the change experience (as one would design a customer experience!) and new ways of working that often underpin large organisation change programmes.

Design thinking is an alternative approach to traditional problem solving that has mostly been associated with product development and the creative industries.

Research shows that diversity and inclusion within the workplace will also result in …

A long exposure of a road at twilight.

A Time For Change

A time for change

A Time For Change

There are now more demands than ever placed on New Zealand non-profit organisations. Non-profits are expected to evaluate and report on an ever increasing number of effectiveness outcomes, create and manage a new culture of performance and professionalism, and collaborate with other non-profits on all phases of projects. In order to meet their demands, organisations are having to change not only their way of working but the way their leaders and employees think.

Supporting non-profit organisations to address change is a key area of focus at Capability Group Ltd. As a first step Capability Group interviewed more than 30 leaders (CEOs, Directors, and Managers) across the New Zealand non-profit sector to discuss current challenges faced by organisations and the wider sector, the ways in which organisations are overcoming the challenges, and the type of leaders needed to drive the change.

Change management & design thinking

Change management & design thinking

The key inputs into the development of a change strategy or plan to support any significant change initiative are typically an impact assessment and a stakeholder analysis.

As Change Managers, I believe we can develop far more creative and meaningful change management solutions by spending more time gathering information about those impacted by proposed changes. By immersing ourselves in the environment of those impacted by change and using some “design thinking” tools we can quickly develop deep insights into current ways of working, behavioural norms and relationships. Tools such as ecosystem (relationship) mapping, day in the life, structured contextual interviewing and shadowing, we believe all add significantly richer information to the initial planning phase of any change initiative.