What are we talking about this for?

We coach, develop and work alongside leaders and teams to shift ideas on leadership and provide the skills and tools needed to grow teams.


Author: Phil Hartwick
First Published: 2021

When someone in your team wants to discuss something at a team meeting, do you start the discussion and then eventually try to figure out why you are having this discussion?

I suspect this is a common experience.

We previously suggested an approach [‘Boost your team meetings’] your team can use to set up discussions. Here is another collaboration hack we’ve been sharing with teams more recently.

When there is an agenda item, or something that has been raised for discussion at team meeting, everyone needs to remember to stop the discussion early and ask:

“Is this a level 1, 2, or 3?”

What do these levels represent?

Level 1?

This item is being raised to inform the team – the discussion is to make sure everyone is informed and understands. This is intended for the team to ask questions rather than make any decisions or tell the initiator how to proceed.

For example an operations manager needs to take a piece of machinery offline for maintenance but before scheduling it, wants everyone to understand the timing and impact of the machine being unavailable.

Level 2?

This item is being raised to get input or feedback from the other team members. The intiator will then consider that information and decide how to progress the item.

This means the initiator wants information from the other team members – for example, risks, concerns, impacts, obstacles, and other relevant information that the initiator may not know or have access to. Note, this is not for the team to make decisions on, although this could be debated.

For example a marketing manager is planning to introduce a new innovative marketing concept and wants to know how others in the team think it will be perceived, any potential adverse impacts on the business and any ideas that might make it even more appealing. After feedback, the marketing manager, may (or may not) make changes to the concept.

Level 3?

This item is being raised by the initiator to have the team engage with an idea, a situation, a problem or an opportunity typically to make one or more decisions and take action. For example, the initiator may want the team to address the item to decide

  • how to resolve the situation, address the problem
  • if this is an idea they can support and how they will support it
  • how to improve the idea or what it will take for them to support it
  • how to advance the item, or resource it
  • how to engage others with the idea or promote it
  • if this is an opportunity that the team wants to capitalise on

The reason to take a Level 3 approach is when there is real benefit to engage the whole team to:

  • Achieve buy in and commitment to support
  • Contribute help or resources to execut
  • Improve an idea through creative contributions

So, to get your team working more effectively in its meetings, we suggest introducing this concept to get agreement from the team to challenge the initiator of every discussion as to the approach (or level) they plan to take.

This should prevent discussions from wandering all over without the team understanding what they are talking about this for!

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