MAKING MEETINGS WORK

We have experienced decades of dissatisfaction voiced by managers and non-managers alike about participating in nonproductive, lengthy meetings.

The keys to successful meeting management are twofold. First there must be an established and supported process or structure by which all meetings are conducted. This “recipe” for conducting meetings eventually becomes part of the management culture of the organization and is an important element of integrating new people into the culture.

The second, and equally important element is the behavior of the meeting participants. Certain “norms” of behaviors must be established and adhered to. A culture of trust must be established where people can both offer and receive “course corrections” in meetings when they either observe the meeting getting off track or when they stray from established norms themselves.

Making Meetings Work takes the well known fundamentals of meeting management and casts them in an entirely new light — how people “show-up” for meetings largely determines the effectiveness of them. Whether face to face, video-conference or teleconference, the rules remain the same.

When looking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your meetings, consider the following:

  • Existing Realities – Determine the current “norms” and practices of your existing meetings. Compare current practices  to industry “best practices” and perform a gap analysis. Formulate action plans to improve practices.
  • Meeting Structure and Operating Guidelines – Follow the meeting guidelines shown below.
  • Roles and Responsibilities – Establish various roles and responsibilities. Facilitator, Team Leader, Participant.
  • Meeting Management – Follow processes for decision making, accountability, and crowd control to stay on track.
  • Positive Confrontation – Develop techniques for surfacing issues using “Appreciative Inquiry” as a foundation.
  • Follow-up – Critique your meetings and  determine how to ensure crisp execution of business decisions without being confrontational?

MEETING GUIDELINES

  •  Start on time
  • Select or acknowledge the chairperson
  • Select a time keeper
  • Ensure all participants have their calendarsBegin with and stick to the agenda (Allocate specific amounts of time to each agenda item)
  • Achieve balanced participation (Dont let some members dominate while others dont participate fully)
  • Avoid going off on tangents (Use action minutes to schedule and track other meetings with the team or various members of the team)
  • Use the action minutes to record and track specific action steps that are important to the team
  • End on time

TAKING CORRECTIVE ACTIONS — HOW, WHEN & WHY

Many times we avoid taking corrective actions because we are uncomfortable with the interaction, we don’t think we have the time or, worst of all, we believe this problem is a one-time occurrence and it won’t happen again.

In my last post, I discussed Goal Setting & Tracking and today I’ll deal with what to do when goals are missed.

Once you have installed a repeatable process for goal setting and tracking and people are comfortable with it, accountability is the next step.  In a meeting environment it is appropriate to hold people accountable, ask penetrating questions and seek corrective action plans. The entire team can be used to help a struggling colleague develop plans for getting back on track and the exercise can be seen as supportive rather than punitive.

When a team member routinely fails to achieve mutually negotiated goals, a one-on-one counseling session is more appropriate. Use this time to inquire into the team member’s personal and work situation and help them develop realistic plans. Often when someone is struggling at work, it can be the result of something in their personal life. For example, a sick child, relationship problems, financial issues, etc. Help the employee understand that they must improve their work performance but be empathetic and also offer suggestions for dealing with their non-work issues.

When a team member is struggling, don’t wait to intervene. I’m not talking about micro-managing but rather offering support and developing solutions. People know when they are not doing a good job and it wears on them. Many are afraid to admit it and ask for help while others just try to”wish it away”. Don’t let them become isolated. This usually results in even more missed goals, time commitments and quality issues. In many cases, you’ll end up losing a good employee who could have been retained if timely corrective action was taken.

Finally, the struggling team member is not the only one being hurt by this lack of performance. Other team members are affected by their colleague’s poor performance and either their work product is affected or they end up “carrying” the struggling team member and they really resent it.

You don’t want to hear people saying “we were all wondering when you were going to do something about old what’s his name”.

Set meaningful, measurable goals, track progress and take corrective action when required.