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Strategize for trust—how to have effective meetings that you and your team enjoy

Kai Madrone
August 31, 2021



Are your team meetings something everyone looks forward to?

Whether your business operates with an ample team or you're a solopreneur who occasionally works with freelancers, there are conversations to be had with the people who help you get things done.

Dreadful meetings, difficult dynamics, and hard conversations are something we've all experienced but as an entrepreneur you have the opportunity to create an environment that reduces painful work interactions and sets your team up for success, efficiency, healthy communication, and a sense of connection.

At The Paradigm Shift Project we've found a simple and strategic practice that keeps meetings fun, fruitful, and rewarding.


A well-designed structure makes for great meetings

Meeting default mode works against you

Meetings are part of business but are seldom something people look forward to. Even if you've surrounded yourself with great people without a wise structure meetings can easily devolve into inefficient events or unpleasant interactions--both of which erode your team and decrease your ability to get things done.

Default-mode meetings can lead to people feeling drained, disempowered, and frustrated. Also, default-mode meetings often fail to facilitate trust and set people up for success, which leaves room for conflicts, complaints, and tensions to fester and grow.

Well-designed meeting structure works for you

Smart structure is strategic and with the right approach to meetings you can create an atmosphere of trust and connection that increases productivity and helps you to address issues efficiently. A well-designed meeting structure:

  • Creates clarity
  • De-escalates conflict
  • Cultivates a productive environment
  • Moves conversation forward
  • Is enjoyable

Our story: the simple method we love to use

In Kai's years as a Relationship Coach she developed a practice that proved transformative for her clients who were struggling in relationship. This specific weekly check-in process worked so well for life partners that she suggested we try it in business and it's proved a winner for our team.

This simple structure is designed to provide a safe space to move through whatever needs to be addressed. It works beautifully for business because it:

  • Facilitates trust
  • Cultivates clarity
  • Empowers participants
  • Creates space for reflection
  • Strengthens connection

How the AC/RC meeting structure works

Humans have a basic need to be seen, heard, and understood. This meeting method facilitates useful conversation about whatever is going on in your business while simultaneously building an environment where people feel safe to share both what's going well and what isn't. This atmosphere of safe, structured openness can set your business up for success. Here's how it works--

Using the acronym AC/RC, the meeting proceeds around the circle in four rounds, one letter at a time. In this way each person present takes a turn sharing what they appreciate, celebrate, request, and a challenge they're experiencing in relationship to their work.

Appreciate or acknowledge--either share something you appreciate, or acknowledge someone for something they've contributed

This is enjoyable and starts things off on an uplifting note that makes it easier to usefully address more challenging topics. It also builds people up and cultivates a deeper sense of connection in the team. We often share several appreciations or acknowledgements, but you can limit this to one for time efficiency.

elebrate--share a personal win or shared victory

We live in a culture that is so focused on what's next that we often neglect to stop and recognize progress and achievement. Pausing to celebrate the good stuff puts challenges in perspective, deepens our sense of purpose, and increases a sense of camaraderie. It matters not whether these celebrations are big or small, what's essential is that everyone contributes one. Celebrations can be delightfully contagious :)

equest--identify one thing you either need or desire and make a request for it--this might be for help, support, ideas, staff, budget, understanding, someone to brainstorm with, etc., etc.

Requests don't necessarily have to be fulfilled, but they must be acknowledged and addressed. Finding out what your team needs can help you work more efficiently and getting in the habit of making thoughtful requests fosters an atmosphere of self-responsiblity and pro-active thinking. Normalizing thoughtful requests can also de-escalate conflict, reduce costs, and cultivate support, empathy, and understanding.

Challenge--identify a difficulty, roadblock, or conundrum you're currently struggling with and share what you're dealing with.

The crucial first step here is to simply hear and acknowledge what the person is facing. The specifics of solutions may be addressed in the meeting itself or elsewhere, whichever is recognized as most useful. The primary benefit of this practice is that it creates an atmosphere of openness and self-responsibility that makes it easier to deal with challenges pro-actively. It also increases trust and inspires support.

The magic in the structure: sequence and safety

Leading with good: In life, relationships, and business, when we start with the good stuff we create conditions where it's easier to hear and address the challenging stuff. As humans we are literally smarter when we feel good. In a good-feeling state we have greater access to a big picture perspective and the insight, solutions, and compassion that come with it. If we want to optimize our ability to tackle the tough issues, start with kudos and celebration.

A consistent rhythm: Part of the secret of the AC/RC structure is that it creates a safe space to bring forward challenging topics. When this kind of check-in is a regular practice tensions are less likely to gain momentum because people know there is a dedicated time and space to share what they're dealing with. Work issues are less likely to build momentum because you find out where people are getting stuck. This pro-active approach gives people a way to step out of the culture of complaint and gives you a place to address issues before they snowball.

Safety for all: Good structure creates a safe container. Moving around a circle in this way gives everyone air time and having a consistent, reliable process means they know what to expect. The fact that there's a place where everyone can share the spectrum of their experience--the happy stuff and the hard stuff--creates an atmosphere of trust and connection that builds the sense of team.

Tip of the week: Create a safe container and structure for team check-ins that works for you business.

At The Paradigm Shift Project we meet weekly and use the AC/RC process as our structure approximately once a month, but the format also works great as a weekly check-in or incorporated into quarterly review and planning sessions.

This meeting structure consistently results in meaningful conversations, pro-active solutions, positive vibes, gratitude, and a sense of progress and fulfillment. You know you have a good thing going when team meetings are something you look forward to!

The work you're doing is too important to get slowed down by unproductive meetings and derailed by dis-empowering dynamics. We hope this week's tip helps you set up a meeting structure that makes all the difference in your business.

Bring who you are, share your gifts, and live your purpose

Thanks for doing what you do in the world,

Kai & Michael

Kai Madrone
Posted on
August 31, 2021



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