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A Message from Sarah & Chris:
The theme of this issue is "conducting effective meetings."
Meetings, whether live or virtual, can be extremely productive or huge time traps. When effective, meetings are a great way to exchange information, coordinate activities, solve problems, and make important decisions. Read on to learn more about conducting effective meetings.
We hope you enjoy our free SCS e-newsletter. Please send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues. Have a great day!
Where We'll Be
Dimensional Fund Advisors Annual Conference
National Harbor, MD
10/26/14 - 10/29/14
4/27/15 - 4/29/15
SAVE THE DATE!
4/27/15 - 4/29/15
| Today's Quotes|
"History is written by people who attend meetings, and stay until the end, and keep the minutes."
- author unknown
"Every job can be expanded to fill the amount of time allotted to it."
- C. Northcote Parkinson, economist
"If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.'''
- Dave Barry, author, humorist
"I have noticed that people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them."
-Edward Verrall Lucas, author
My boss told me that I should dress for the job I want, not the job I have. Now I'm sitting in a disciplinary meeting in my Batman costume!
Why do we take notes from a meeting that lasts for hours and call them minutes?
The owner of a small company was complaining during a staff meeting that people didn't respect him enough. Trying to change the attitude in the office, he came in the next day with a sign for his door that said, "I am the boss." One of the employees, apparently not appreciating the sign, posted a Post-It note on the sign that read, "Your wife wants her sign back!"
Ponder this: What if there were no hypothetical situations?
Meetings with a
Although many may disagree, meetings are not inherently boring and unproductive. Meetings can and should be opportunities for people to have lively, synergistic discussions about topics relevant to their livelihoods. Meetings are "expensive" because they take people away from their work. Yet when meetings are planned and executed effectively, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Karen Leland and Keith Bailey, authors of the book Time Management In An Instant, tell us that every meeting needs a "PAL" - Purpose, Agenda, and Limits. The PAL system is simple and straightforward. It creates a basic mindfulness towards meetings that will be appreciated by all participants.
Meetings should serve a purpose. Each meeting should have a defined mission or overall objective. Ask yourself these questions before you plan any meeting. What is the desired outcome? Are you communicating information to the group, or are you asking them for information or project status? Do you want to solicit ideas and suggestions? Are there decisions that need to be made during the meeting? Is the meeting strategic or tactical? After pondering these questions, you should be able to clearly articulate the purpose and continue planning the meeting.
Time is a precious resource. Agendas help streamline meetings and avoid wasting time. You may want to consider preparing a draft agenda and running it by attendees prior to finalizing it in order to solicit input and/or additional agenda items. When preparing an agenda, consider the following:
Topics - What topics should be covered to meet the objective? Priorities?
Outcome - What do we want to accomplish during the meeting?
Order - What is the most logical order to discuss the topics?
Timing - How much time should be allotted to each topic? Total meeting time?
Attendees - Who should attend to ensure a successful meeting?
Time and Location - When and where will the meeting take place?
Format - What is the best format for this type of meeting?
Preparation - Is there any information attendees need to know beforehand or any "pre-meeting work" that they should do?
Every meeting should have a stated start and finish time, and a meeting should always start and end on time. Period! When a meeting starts late, the on-time attendees' time is being wasted. When a meeting runs over, it usually becomes unproductive and attendees' schedules are adversely affected.
The first step to keeping meetings on track is to start on time. Don't backtrack for late-comers; they can find out what they missed on their own time. Use the agenda as a guide for amount of time to be spent on each topic. If you start to run out of time on a specific topic, you can try to close off conversation and bring it to a conclusion. If more time is needed, then consider deferring the discussion to a subsequent meeting or assigning it to a task force to research and report back at the next meeting.
Here are a few additional best practices to keep a meeting on track:
- Assign a note-taker. After each topic is discussed, quickly summarize and get consensus. Include this summary in the notes., as well as any next steps identified.
- Note any items that need further discussion or additional action.
- If someone gets off on a tangent and brings up a "worthy" topic that is not on the agenda, note it for the "parking lot." Track items for future discussion there until they are assigned to a future agenda.
- As tasks are identified that need to be completed, note who is to do them and the relevant deadlines. Build time into future agendas for reporting and status updates on assigned tasks.
- If someone is dominating the conversation, proactively solicit input from other attendees. You can also remind attendees of the time limit allocated to the topic and ask them to keep their comments brief and to the point.
- Once the meeting is over, finalize the notes and distribute to all attendees and stakeholders.
Effective meetings are well-planned and well-executed. If you use the meeting time wisely, foster healthy communication among attendees, and ensure that the purpose was fulfilled, attendees will leave energized and with a real sense of accomplishment.
For a quick lesson in taking meeting notes effectively, click here.
Meetings Come in
All meetings are not created equal. Meeting formats, frequency, and amount of time spent can be custom-tailored to meet specific needs. Let's review a few of the most popular types of meetings:
1. The "stand-up" team meeting - brief get-together (10-15 minutes) to communicate quickly or give status updates. Not for decision-making!
2. The periodic staff meeting - held on a regular basis (ideally same time/day each period and lasts no longer than one hour). This is a popular format for team or department meetings.
3. Virtual meetings - teleconference or Skype-type meetings to bring together remote workers and/or people in satellite offices; can serve same purpose as (1) or (2) above. Ideally, limit time to 30 minutes and limit attendees to ensure participation and make the best use of everyone's time.
4. Task force meeting - established as needed; attendees are an ad hoc group assembled to research an issue and report their findings and/or solutions to a larger group.
5. Brainstorming or cross-department meeting - held as needed to review opportunities/threats or operational issues, or to deliberate strategic initiatives; can be one large group or multiple small groups, with representation from various departments or employee segments.
6. Management meetings - gathering of leaders and senior managers to discuss strategic direction, operational issues, company policies, and financials.
7. Company or "town hall" meeting - gathering of all personnel; recommended quarterly to inform employees of strategic direction, goals and initiatives, financial positions, and other significant information impacting the company. Often held at each location for larger companies.
8. Offsite Workshop or Company Retreat - offsite gathering of all employees; great opportunity for team building. Usually involves long-term planning, brainstorming, or some type of activity in which all attendees can participate.
With the exception of perhaps the first example above, all of these formats require planning and agendas to be effective. When planning a meeting, take time to think about the best format to fit your needs.
Looking for some fresh ideas? Let SCS help you plan your next company retreat!
What our Customers are Saying...
"We enjoyed our meeting and are so excited to be working with you.Everyone agreed that yesterday was awesome and by the middle of the day we all felt like we had been working with you for years."
- Lee Swerdlin, President, Swerdlin & Company