Published: July 20, 2021
By: Stephen Kline
Summary: Segues before each meeting have purposes beyond a few minutes of catching up and social time. This step is designed to build genuine connections with others, to understand people better while supporting company culture and the development of humane, productive and resilient organizations.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word “segue” as "to move smoothly from one song, subject, place, etc., to another." When a band properly executes a segue, we may not even recognize that the song has changed.
This is pretty much how Ninety® wants to make our workday feel.
Today's Work From Anywhere World™ of Zoom calls means we're jumping from one meeting to the next. With stacked calendars, these non-stop meetings leave little time to prepare ourselves for the upcoming conversation mentally. When we're not prepared mentally, it can feel a bit like jumping from Sinatra to Metallica – good tracks, but the lack of a proper transition, or segue, into what’s next can be jarring. The Segue part of our Weekly Meetings works to smooth the transition from meeting to meeting so it feels more natural, whether through video conferencing or in person.
Here at Ninety, we commit the first five minutes of every Meeting to allow for Segue time. We start by asking each attendee about a personal and professional best worth sharing. The "bests" match the timing of the Meeting – so the past week for Weeklies and the past quarter for Quarterlies. Personal bests can be anything from time spent with family to achieving a fitness goal. Professional bests add the layer of something achieved at work, whether winning a new client, success with progressing a project forward or finishing a continuing education course.
Quarterly and Annual Meetings have an extra layer where we ask for "what's working" and "what's not working." This additional wrinkle can elevate Issues for the Team to discuss within that very Quarterly. Other times, it might warrant a one-on-one meeting later down the road.
Segues deserve a bit of forethought. Candidly, the forethought is part of their purpose. We naturally take a break and smooth that transition, breaking up tasks by thinking about what we want to share with our teammates.
There are a number of benefits to a solid Segue, the clearest being a smoother flow between meetings. The less obvious, yet more important benefit is the connection between each other which this form of checking-in generates. We start to hear about the family, hobbies and other interests that connect us with each other as individuals. It also provides space to publicly celebrate accomplishments.
This intentional connection is especially important when people work remotely. When we hold meetings in person, it's customary to banter before kicking off into the main topic discussion. It's almost natural, especially if there's already a level of familiarity between those in the meeting. But this chatty banter can sometimes unknowingly exclude the introverts in the crowd, or those new to the team, which is why Segues are so important, even when meeting in person.
Yes, Ninety includes a five-minute timer for this portion of the meeting agenda by default, but don't rush through the Segue because of it. The long-term connections built between individuals within an organization are critical, so the short-term topics of any given meeting to cover can wait a little longer. In other words, don’t worry about it if the Segue sometimes extends to 15 minutes, though if it's happening all the time, consider scheduling a happy hour or other space for personal interaction. That said, when the workday smoothly transitions between tasks and meetings with teammates who share a connection, work starts to feel like Work (with a capital W).
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