MAKING MEETINGS WORK

For decades managers and non-managers alike have voiced dissatisfaction with 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.

In order to make meetings work, you must take the well known fundamentals of meeting management and cast them in an entirely new light — how people “show-up” for meetings largely determines the effectiveness of them. Face to face, Video-Conference and Teleconference forums all suffer from the same difficulties. People show up late, distracted and unprepared. The stress and anxiety caused by these bad habits are the root cause of many meetings failing to meet their desired outcomes.

Here are a few things you can do to begin to change your meeting culture and therefore their effectiveness.

Determine Existing Realities – Gather data from employees regarding the current “norms” and practices for conducting meetings. Compare current practices with industry “best practices” and perform a gap analysis to re-engineer your processes to establish “future Practices”.

Set Meeting Structure and Operating Guidelines – Review meeting mechanics and procedures.

Determine Roles and Responsibilities – Study the various roles and responsibilities and re-define as required. Facilitator, Team Leader, Time Keeper, Action Minute Recorder, Participant.

Focus on Meeting Management – Sharpen facilitation skills and decision making. Become a master of accountability, and crowd control.

Facilitate Positive Confrontation – Learn how to surface difficult issues and use “Appreciative Inquiry” as a foundation for problem solving and resolution.

Here are some guidelines for conducting successful meetings:

  • Start on time
  • Select or acknowledge the chairperson
  • Select a time keeper
  • Select an action minute recorder
  • Ensure all participants have their calendars
  • Begin with and stick to the agenda (Allocate specific amounts of time to each agenda item)
  • Achieve balanced participation (Don’t let some members dominate while others don’t 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

How productive are your meetings?

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