#18: build a better meeting (one-on-one)

last week while meeting withsandythe brand new lemon lime kids’ intern-a thought occurred to me: most of the tips and ideas we discuss during the build a better meeting series apply to team meetings, and usually assume that a medium size group is gathered for a meeting.

but, for most of us, we also lead weekly meetings with only one other person in attendance. a one-on-one meeting is a perfect time to focus on just one employee or volunteer, and dig deeper into specific decisions and tasks.

a few tips for meeting one-on-one with an employee or volunteer:

  • create an agenda: even if it’s a less formal agenda, or it’s an agenda that lives in your head – still take the time to think through what needs to be discussed, decided, and planned. don’t treat it like a coffee date where you’ll just casually chat hoping that by the end, everything has been discussed. most likely, it won’t be discussed if you don’t have a plan!
  • encourage personal catch up: when you are one on one, it’s a perfect time to catch up on each other’s families, and hobbies, and vacations. but, just like you would in a larger group meeting setting, set a time limit for personal conversations and be sure to move on when time has expired. sandy and i share a passion for cooking and are big fans of aarti sequeira, so after a few minutes of catching up on our favorite recipes, we were back to our task list.
  • delegate action steps: it may feel strange to review action steps at the end of a one-on-one meeting, but it’s crucial that each person understand what to do next. at the end of the meeting, review the discussion, delegate next steps, and agree to an action plan.

enjoy your one-on-one meetings this week! and, please share your best tips for making the most of time with an employee or volunteer.

oh! and starting next week, sandy will be writing a weekly blog series called “diary of an intern” on her internship leadership learnings!

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welcome TED to #kidmin

welcome TED. we’re glad you’re here.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference and first began in 1984 when founder Richard Saul Wurman wanted to throw the world’s best dinner party.

how TED became the new harvard is a fascinating new article in the latest fast company magazine, and of course has me wondering how TED will affect the future of children’s ministry conferences.

maybe you’ve seen jamie oliver’s TED talk, or elizabeth gilbert on nurturing creativity, or malcolm gladwell on spaghetti sauce, and maybe while watching you wondered why learning isn’t always this simple and effective. it’s without doubt that TED is paving the way for new forms of learning and collaborating.

the key to TED’s success are the simple yet distinctive design rules that wurman created:

1. a single track of programming: wurman says, “they think people want choice, but the people talking at the break don’t have a common memory and all feel they went to the wrong session.”

2. no Q & A: wurman’s logic, “out of the first 20 questions you get, 19 are either speeches or bad questions.”

3. 18 minute-talk length: wurman says 15 minutes would be trivial, too short. and if you said 20, people would talk for 25.

i love most everything about children’s ministry conferences, and as both a regular conference attendee and conference creator, i’m curious to see how we’ll follow TED’s lead.

what do you think? how will TED affect children’s ministry conferences? and the better question: how do we want TED to affect conferences?

#17: build a better (on time) meeting

so, have i mentioned this before? i have aholy discontent for bad meetings.

along with chewed gum, and sloppy joes, and cold weather, i equally hate bad meetings.

but, i’ve been complaining about bad meetings for too long – figured i should turn my frown upside down and do something helpful. do something to encourage bad meetings to fall out of fashion. hence, the weekly monday series: build a better meeting.

today’s tip: start and end meetings on time.

it’s simple, really. but oh-so-hard to accomplish. i’m a simple girl. i believe that if a meeting is scheduled for 9-10 am, it should start at 9 and end at 10. but then again, i’m simple. i don’t like a ton of fuss.

most meetings i attend, start late and end late. i wish it weren’t true. and, i’m definitely responsible for my share of leading late meetings. maybe together we can fix this.

a couple (on time) tips:

  • start the meeting on time. even if only one person is there, or only one person is missing. and please please don’t say the phrase, “let’s just wait a few minutes until everyone gets here.” it devalues the people who made it on time.
  • make sure you can always see the time. wear a watch, or place a super large clock on the wall directly in front of you. if it’s difficult to lead the meeting and pay attention to the time, set an alarm clock that beeps when time is up. then, you can set it and not have to think.
  • end the meeting on time. even if you don’t get through the entire agenda, and communicate that to the group -“i value your time more than the items on this list. we’ll get to these things next time.”  it might encourage participants to work hard at the next meeting to help you get through the list. when they know there is not an infinite amount of time, they’ll feel encouraged to work hard!

cheers to on time meetings! oh, and i’m super grateful to my friends matt and dan who helped brainstorm today’s tip. after all, build a better meeting is a collaborative project – if you’ve got a great tip for building a better meeting, email or tweet me: amy@lemonlimekids.com | @adolan

reflections on a Fire Captain

the best part about being in my thirties is that i’ve realized what i like and what i don’t like. i like ice cream, and popcorn (with extra butter), and lazy friday nights with my husband, and cooking, and reading new books, and of course the beach. i don’t like leftovers, and large parties where shallow conversation happens, and bad websites, and chewed gum, and most of all cold weather.

but more than anything else, i know that i like great leadership – and i absolutely can’t stand a situation where less than great leadership is tolerated and expected.

when my husband and i were living in our first apartment, there was a stretch of time (like many many months) when the building’s fire alarm would go off several times in the middle of the night. it was crazy. every night, beginning at 2 AM, this incredibly loud and obnoxious alarm would shriek in our bedroom and we would see red flashing lights, and we would hear doors slamming as people fled their apartments and children crying as their parents carried them down ten flights of stairs in the middle of the night. it was terrible. and it happened every night, 3-4 times per night, for several months. and the best part was there was never actually a fire. every night the system malfunctioned. i’m grateful there was never a fire that destroyed our home. i’m not grateful that the system was not able to function properly.

well you can imagine what began to happen, people started staying in their apartments when the alarm went off.  they knew it wasn’t a real fire, and they weren’t about to continue sacrificing their full eight hours of sleep for a faulty system. but my husband and i are rule followers so we continued to get out of bed every time the alarm went off – Every Time. and i grew to hate that alarm, but more than my hate for that alarm, i hated that no one was leading, and helping us figure out a solution for this terrible problem.

something needed to be done. we needed a leader. so i appointed myself the official Fire Captain of the 10th floor. a Fire Captain would be responsible for checking on the floor each night,and giving leadership and direction when an actual fire was occurring, helping to implement a strategy when real people were in real danger. it was a fabulous idea! and even though no one besides my husband and our next door neighbor knew that i was the official Fire Captain, i now felt confident that in a crisis situation we had a plan, and that someone would be leading in order to care for everyone on the floor.

because, as you know, that’s what happens when you are both blessed and cursed with the gift of leadership. it’s like you can never quite turn it off, even when you are trying desperately just to get a good’s night sleep, instead you must step in and lead. even if it’s a leadership role as silly as the Fire Captain.

i’m in my thirties now which means it’s finally time to be me. to be the leader i was designed to be. and so today, i’m embracing the Fire Captain inside of me. the leader who loves to solve problems, and build teams, and encourage innovative thinking. and today, i vow to celebrate extraordinary leadership and decidedly not tolerate poor leadership.

be blessed, be encouraged, and be reminded: it’s time to be you.


age of volunteers: +/- 10 years

yesterday, i received my smart ministrye-newsletter with a link for a fascinating article from usa today titled: “more young adults going into ministry.”  a quote from gail ford smith (director of the center for clergy excellence) stuck out to me:

“a pastor usually attracts persons 10 years above and below their own age range,” says gail ford smith, director of the center for clergy excellence at the texas annual conference of the united methodist church. “if you have a 27-year-old starting a new worship service, they’re going to attract people ages (17) to 37.”

while not implying the average age of church volunteers, the article made me wonder if the same was true for the age of volunteers in our children’s ministry. do you think this idea of plus or minus 10 years is true for leaders who recruit volunteers? are the majority of your volunteers 10 years older and younger than you?

#16: build a better (fall) meeting

happy monday! i apologize for the lack of posts this past week, i thought it would be an easier transition back to work from vacation – but i was wrong. it was a crazy, chaotic, busy week, that lacked any sense of normalcy or routine. but, now that i’ve had a week to collect my thoughts, unpack my suitcase, and reacquaint myself with my office i’m ready to jump back into work full force!

and so, just like that fall is upon us!  summer vacations behind us, it’s time to embrace fall and launch a brand new ministry season.

today’sbuild a better meeting is all about the fall volunteer meeting. i always love a great fall meeting-it’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect with volunteers, and share updates, information and training for the upcoming ministry season. there are a lot of great ways to do a fantastic fall meeting: all volunteers together for dinner and a vision talk, volunteers divided into age classrooms for an all day saturday training, and even a virtual meeting in which volunteers log online for an hour during the evening to receive updates.

but, i think every great fall meeting includes some components of vision, information, training, and community.  my most favorite fall meeting was a few years ago when we played off a carnival theme. we had a lot to accomplish during our meeting and wanted to do it in a fun way so we built a giant carnival. we set up booths where volunteers could play games to receive their information and training, get their pictures taken for their volunteer tags, and have fun re-connecting with each other! it was easy to find popcorn, carnival flags, and inexpensive prizes to make the carnival complete. it was a blast! [and sometimes i wish every meeting i went to included a carnival!]

today, let’s share creative ideas or simple tips for building and implementing a great (fall) meeting. what have you done in the past, or what are you planning for this year’s meeting, or what have you always wished to do but haven’t yet had opportunity?

and for extra incentive, i’ll randomly choose 1 person (who posts a comment with a creative idea or simple tip) and send you a small box of carnival goodies!

happy monday, and cheers to better fall meetings!

reflections on vacation

this last week kelly & i had the most fantastic vacation. we spent time together doing our very favorite things in our most favorite city, and now feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to bring our filled spirits into our regular-every-day, back-to-normal-lives.

our lovely vacation culminated at the end of the week with a wedding celebration for our great friends sean & sarah. we first met both sean & sarah just four years ago when we chose a brand new home church. this particular church was the first church that kelly and i chose together as a family, neither of us had been raised in the specific tradition, but from the beginning knew that this place would be just right for us as we continued our faith experience as adults. sean was the first pastor who took us to coffee and taught us everything we needed to know about the presbyterian faith, and participating in committees, and growing in faith and leadership. we quickly became great friends, and upon meeting his girlfriend sarah, we watched as a very special bond amongst the four of us grew.

and just a few nights ago, while celebrating sean & sarah’s wedding, and sitting at a table with some of our closest friends from the church – i was overwhelmed with emotion, remembering those early days of our church experience. at times, it was so difficult to choose this new church, apart from our families, in a place where we knew absolutely no one, and feeling discouraged walking home so many sundays wondering how long and how much effort it would take to develop significant friendships and truly deep community.

and yet at the wedding, i looked around the room at a handful of people who have walked life with us these last few years in such deep and profound ways; the woman who helped us re-think our finances, and the pastor who challenged us to give our best gifts to the church, and the couple who reminded us how to laugh and dance and experience everyday joy, and the friend who always remembers the littlest of details in our lives, and as i looked at each of these people, i was again reminded that choosing the right church and the right group of people to trust your life with are always worth the effort.