Do you employees arrive late to meetings?
Do you spend too much time planning a meeting that seems to be wasted?
Do you struggle to engage everyone in the meeting?
Meetings can be difficult to manage, especially when we are becoming more and more time poor with people’s job descriptions growing and expanding. However, meetings can be great tools within the workplace to ensure everyone is on the same page, set a company culture, keep people accountable and delegate roles. Here are a few more tips on meetings for you to consider…
What’s wrong with meetings?
According to Roger Mosvick and Robert Nelson in ‘We’ve Got to Start Meeting Like This’, managers and professionals polled on the specific problems of meetings listed 1305 problems. Sixteen of these accounted for 90 per cent of the problems. Here they are:
- Getting off the subject
- No goals or agenda
- Too lengthy
- Poor or inadequate preparation
- Ineffective leadership/lack of control
- Irrelevance of information discussed
- Time wasted
- Starting late
- Not effective for making decisions
- Individuals dominate discussion
- Rambling, redundant or digressive discussion
- No published results of follow-up action
- No pre-meeting orientation.
Meeting Management Tip 1
Effective chairpersons see ‘time’ as a key to successful meetings. In this regard, says Robert Burns in ‘Making Meetings Happen’, they:
- start on time
- announce a finishing time for the meeting
- allow time for breaks, announced in advance
- limit the number of items on the agenda to the time allowed
- allocate in advance a time limit by the side of each agenda item
- keep discussion on track to ensure decisions are made within those set time allocations
- prepare procedures in advance to deal with any unresolved business if time runs out.
How to encourage involvement
As chair of a meeting, you can encourage the involvement of participants by:
- making all staff feel relaxed about getting involved, assuring them that all contributions will be valued.
- seeking different points of view.
- allowing all issues to be openly discussed and debated.
- noticing who is not contributing and seeking ways to get them involved.
- limiting the involvement critical contributors in favour of creative participants
- helping others express themselves by seeking clarification
- keeping the discussion balanced, seeking differing views, mediating as required.
- recognising the existence of individual talent and expertise, calling on these individuals to shine whenever the opportunity arises.
- offer thanks when credit is due.
Robert Burns in Making Meetings Happen.
Meetings: In a nutshell
The basics of managing a meeting, according to Donald Walton in ‘Are You Communicating?’ (McGraw Hill, NY, 1989) are very simple and very few. They can be boiled down to these fundamentals:
- Adequate advance information. Give participants enough time and information so they can come prepared to contribute intelligently.
- A clear objective. Expect to accomplish one thing. State this clearly; maybe write it on a blackboard before proceeding.
- An agenda. Outline the discussion structure in writing. Pull the discussion back on track whenever the meeting begins to wander from it.
- Brevity. Allocate the time to be taken in advance. Start on time. End on time – or earlier.
- A small group. The meeting will get out of hand with more than 12 participants. Half that number is far better. Accomplishment is likely to be in inverse proportion to attendance.
- Decisions for action. Decide actions to be taken, by whom, and by what dates. Confirm it all in a brief follow-up memo to all participants.
Research cited by Robert Burns in ‘Making Meetings Happen’ (p..5) reveals that, in a survey of 635 business managers, 75% were concerned by the ineffectiveness of typical meetings they attended. Specifically, they listed their concerns as:
His research also revealed that many business meetings are ineffectively organised and run, and that most managers need to enhance their meeting skills (p.14). He revealed through survey the unflattering percentage of managers who say they always: