Ineffective and poorly- run meetings serve as one of the top talent and time wasters. Develop the skill to run a tight, highly focused meeting with just the right number and kind of people in attendance and your stature as a leader rises.First, figure out what is the specific outcome of the meeting and start with that as the written objective. Give your meeting a name that even states the “objective”. Next, ask yourself who has the greatest information or talent and should be at the meeting. Figure the personnel cost for the meeting. For example, if an employee has an average annual salary of $50,000, the per hour cost for that one person is $96 per hour. (This includes salary plus benefits and general company overhead). You can extrapolate other salary costs from this base. Here are other tips to make this meeting move from average to great:
(1) Put a specific time frame on the meeting and start on time.
If people show up late, create some fun—but telling— response for tardiness. In one organization, the latecomer has to sing to everyone. In another, the latecomer buys cokes for everyone. In another, the latecomer is given a scarlet “L” on a tent card. In Saturn Automotive plant meetings, if the door is closed, you are late and an alarm rings if you try to enter.
(2) Develop good facilitation skills, making sure everyone participates and is heard from
(3) Summarize questions, outcomes, actions. Summarize frequently
(4) Have the names of who should attend on the agenda, which is sent out at least 48 hours in advance.
(5) Create a “parking lot” notebook. If an issue is brought up that is not on the agenda but might be addressed at another time, write it down so it can be tackled.
(6) Consider a stand-up meeting. To move people through quickly, have no chairs in the meeting room. It’s amazing how quickly people can get work done when there is no place to sit.
(7) At the end of the meeting, and as a way of staying focused and practicing continuous improvement of meeting management, tell the group the personnel cost of the meeting and if the money could have been spent more wisely in another format?
(8) Make sure a summary of the meeting is sent to the participants along with any action items or next steps, a due date, and the person or groups to which they are assigned.
(9) To break a meeting routine, you might consider beginning by asking people to come prepared to tell the group about some person whom they want to acknowledge for outstanding service. Starting off by highlighting positive performance—particularly of unsung employees—is a powerful gesture.
(10) Don’t forget to say thank you. Time is the only true non-renewable, irreplaceable resource. When people give you their time, they gave you a piece of their lives.
For more information on leadership ideas, communication skills, or work life balance practices, click on Leadership and read more by Eileen McDargh, an expert in work/life leadership issues.
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