Meeting Bleating

I was reminded last week, once more, that some individuals, who choose to run meetings, have no clue how to organize, manage an agenda and end on time with a satisfactory (at the least) outcome. As an independent consultant who charges for time spent on projects I am always conscious of what productive work is being done while I sit in a meeting (whether I am being paid or not).

It’s not that difficult

Its amazing that many senior level executives have absolutely no clue how to organize a meeting to start, progress, and end successfully. If you’re not good at something then find someone who is (see related post) and have them do it. That’s the MO for a successful executive.

If you are a leader, I would ask you to start thinking about if you have a habit of keeping people late. Why are you doing it? Is it really worth screwing up people’s lives, and in the case of people who have individual work to do, really worth stealing time from their individual projects to make one more point?

Bob Sutton

Check your power at the door

Bob Sutton, a prof. at Stanford is routinely a no nonsense blogger and has written about the conduct of senior people who take advantage of other colleagues time and resources for no good reason and generally from bad management. Its a great read and maybe a link discretely given to an unorganized boss.

Another perspective that can be considered is an article written about a Google exec, Melissa Mayer, who in 2006 was profiled by Business Week. I’ve kept that article and referenced it regularly in my coaching work with other leaders. While I am not sure that my work style can match Melissa’s “7 minute meetings” I found a lot of good ideas in her many methods of getting meetings accomplished effectively.

Ten rules for meetings

Over the years I’ve tried to become more effective at running my own meetings and coaching others to do just the same. In general I’ve found the following to be effective;

  1. Create an agenda showing topic, purpose, time scheduled and person prime,
  2. Send the agenda out well in advance, e.g. for a 3 hour meeting 7 days is appropriate,
  3. Organize the facilities and logistics prior to the meeting start,
  4. Begin on time, set the tone that allows for required participation but is also time bounded,
  5. Assign the responsibility of taking minutes to  a capable person,
  6. Ensure that decisions and required follow-on actions get recorded,
  7. Cover the agenda as planned, keep to the time line for each item,
  8. Sidebar important related items needing further time in another venue,
  9. Complete the meeting as scheduled and thank all for participating, ask for meeting quality feedback,
  10. Issue minutes within 48 hours.

In the event that meetings are impromptu or called in a crisis then you should still attempt to provide an agenda on a verbal basis at the point of invite. Review the agenda again at the start of the meeting and stick to the planned time.

Meetings are an inevitable part of human interaction. Good leaders run effective meetings—or not at all!

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