Many leaders of large organizations engage in a practice often called "The Monday Minute," the "Monday Morning Minute," or something similar. It takes the form of a weekly message, distributed each Monday, and intended to focus the attention of the people of the organization. The focus of attention is supposed to be a recent success, or an anticipated major initiative, or an outstanding achievement by an individual or a team. For organizations that are so large that most people don't know what most of the other people are doing, the Monday Minute is supposed to knit the organization together — to make a whole out of otherwise-disparate the parts.
Monday Minute presentations can be in text, Web pages, audio messages, or videos. The more elaborate forms have high-end production values, with action footage or dramatic shots of scenery, company facilities, or company products in action.
If the organization isn't too large, the Monday Minute, or something analogous under a different name, can help. But there are some traps and pitfalls to avoid. Here are six ways to go wrong with your Monday Minute practice.
- Misalignment of value
- These weekly For organizations that are so large that
most people don't know what most of the
other people are doing, the Monday Minute
is supposed to knit the organization
together — to make a whole out
of otherwise-disparate the partsmessages usually do have organizational value. They do help somewhat to bring the organization together. But unless members of your audience see that value as useful in their own work, the value of the messages won't align with the value they seek and need for executing their own responsibilities. The weekly message, for them, will seem to have negative value because the effort required to digest the message will appear to much of the audience to exceed any possible benefit.
- Be certain that the content of your messages is truly valuable not only to you but also to your audience.
- Not only a minute
- The title, "Monday Minute" is clever, appealing, and memorable, in part, because of the alliteration. (See "The Trap of Beautiful Language," Point Lookout for December 18, 2019) If the Monday Minute messages truly are only a minute long, that's great. But if they're much longer — five or ten or even 15 minutes — much of the audience won't stay with you. They'll check out after the third or fourth minute. Or if they do stay with you, they might come to resent the time spent.
- Limit your "minute" messages to 60 seconds, or find a new title.
- Not enough happening to justify a weekly message
- A problem that is the opposite of "Not only a minute" is a lack of interesting content. If you're just glad-handing folks for minor victories, you're doing more damage than just wasting time. People will learn to see through the glad-handing. They'll recognize that not much is actually happening in your organization. Your messages will begin to serve as acknowledgements of staleness.
- The fix for this is simple. Make more happen, or reduce the frequency of your messages.
- Message too specific or arcane
- If understanding the content of the message requires familiarity with closely held or arcane information, the message can have an effect opposite to what is intended. Instead of bringing people together, the message can make people feel excluded. This outcome is more likely if the message is couched in technical terms or in terms of jargon or acronyms that only the people most closely involved understand.
- Ensure audience familiarity with elements of message content by relying on repetition. Have a for-more-info section that includes an internal Web address for a page that has quick summaries of otherwise-mysterious terms or functions.
- Scenic backdrops unrelated to the message
- For leaders who have ample budgets, there is a risk of excessiveness in production values. For example, shooting the Monday Minute message on a beach, or at a historic site, or atop a Utah mesa might seem inspirational, but to some in the audience it can seem excessive and wasteful. And for those in undesirable locations, inspirational settings for the Monday Minute message can serve to remind them of their own undesirable locations. They might see money spent on these messages as money that could have supported "real work." You might generate more resentment than unity.
- Be certain that the backdrops for your messages are relevant. They must add value, meaning and power to the message.
Most important, remember that your messages are likely to be captured by audience members, to be replayed in perpetuity, whether or not you archive them. This means that they must be durable. If a message contains high praise for an initiative that fails dramatically soon afterward, or if a message contains technical flaws and conceptual errors, you and the whole Monday Minute Message program can become a punch line before you can say "Dunder Mifflin." Top Next Issue
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 13: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: I
- To take the risks that learning and practicing new ways require, we all need a sense that trial-and-error approaches are safe. Organizations seeking to improve processes would do well to begin by assessing their level of psychological safety. Available here and by RSS on December 13.
- And on December 20: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: II
- When we begin using new tools or processes, we make mistakes. Practice is the cure, but practice can be scary if the grace period for early mistakes is too short. For teams adopting new methods, psychological safety is a fundamental component of success. Available here and by RSS on December 20.
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