The Daily Recruiter

The Ezine for Executive Managers … brought to you by The SearchLogix Group.

Category: Meetings

How to Craft Meetings

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” By Eric J McNulty, Strategy+Business contributor” 

We open today on a familiar scene: After a long day of back-to-back meetings, Bob arrives home to find his wife, Jane, who also has just returned from work, starting to prepare dinner. As Bob rolls up his sleeves to begin chopping carrots, they talk about their day.

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How to Lead a Team Meeting

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“By Dan McCarthy,”

One of a manager’s most important responsibilities is being able to plan and run an effective team meeting. Many managers never learn how to run an effective meeting because they’ve sat through too many poorly run meetings (lack of role models) or they’ve never been to a training program on how to run meetings.

Follow these ten tips for planning and running effective team meetings:

1. Have a positive attitude about meetings. This is the single most important thing a manager can do as a leader to improve team meetings. I’m appalled at how many managers are proud to proclaim their hatred of meetings. In order to achieve significant results, solve problems, make decisions, inform, inspire, collaborate, and motivate, managers need to work with people. That means occasionally getting those people together in a room or on a conference call and actually talking to them. Managing isn’t about sitting in the office with the door shut sending emails.

As a leader, try looking at meetings as the manifestation of leadership. It’s leadership show time, not something to dread like a trip to the dentist.

2. Own the meeting. Don’t delegate the agenda planning to an admin or another team member. As a leader, it’s your meeting. It’s your job to plan and run the meeting. If you hate your own meetings, there’s no one to blame but yourself.

3. Prepare an agenda. I’m sure every article you’ve read on effective meetings mentioned agendas. Yet, we still show up to meetings where there is none to found. “Planning” is the other thing that’s often missing. Take the time to think about key decisions that need to be made, information that needs to be communicated, who needs to be at the meeting, timing, etc. “Winging it” is a waste of your team’s time and tells them you don’t really care.

4. Ask for input on the agenda. Although it’s the manager’s primary responsibility do the agenda, team members can be invited to contribute agenda items. Send out a call for agenda items a few days before the meeting.

5. Spice it up! Put a little variety in the format. Here are a few things you can do to spice up your stale team meetings:

  • Invite guest speakers
  • Celebrate something
  • Do a “learning roundtable” – have team members take turn teaching each other something
  • Watch a Ted Talk that’s relevant to the meeting agenda
  • Do a team-building activity
  • Change locations; go off-site
  • Bring in some fun or interesting food
  • Have a “single item agenda” meeting
  • Do lighting round updates
  • Do some brainstorming
  • Switch chairs; switch anything to break up the monotony

6Allow some “white space” for creativity and engagement. Don’t try to cram so many items into the agenda that there’s no room for discussion or spontaneity.

7. Use team meetings to collaborate. Instead of just sharing information, try solving a problem, making a decision, or creating something. Yes, it’s challenging and can be messy, but that’s where we get the most value from meetings. Be ready to just roll the dice and be open to any outcome.

8. Lighten up. Being the leader of a meeting isn’t about flaunting authority or abusing power. Chastising someone for being late in front of the team is an example of doing this. Have a sense of humor and humility.

9. Follow-up. Keep track of action items and make sure people do what they say they are going to do. It’s frustrating to show up to the next meeting and find out half the team didn’t bother doing what you stayed late the night before completing. Follow up and inspect before the meeting, and hold individuals accountable.

10. Be a role model leader. Team meetings are not a time to let your guard down and kick back with your team. Hold yourself and your team to the highest standards of conduct, which means no off-color jokes, picking on team members, cynicism and sarcasm, or bashing other departments or management. Think about the kind leader you want to be known for, and then show up to each and every meeting being that leader.

6 Ways to Get Rid of Bad Meetings Once and For All

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“by David Dye,”

Horrible meetings are a cliché of the business world, and with good reason. Many meetings are a waste of time and don’t accomplish anything.

The minutes creep along while the meeting leader fritters away everyone’s time, people have meaningless conversations that don’t solve problems, and everyone is frustrated that they could be doing something more productive with their time.

When you don’t run meetings well, not only do your results suffer, so does your credibility. Here are six tips to get rid of your bad meetings once and for all:

Don’t Waste My Time

One of the biggest reasons people hate meetings is that they abuse our most precious resource: our time.

Effective managers treat everyone’s time as a precious resource. However, when you carelessly let meetings run long, or start late, or have a meeting you never should have called, you disrespect your people.

My first rule of effective meetings is: only hold meetings when they are the most valuable use of all the attendees’ time.

That is a high bar to clear, I know. But really – if there were something a person could do that is more valuable, that contributes more directly to the team and to the results you’re trying to accomplish, why on Earth would you want them in your meeting where they are less productive?

So how do you make sure a meeting is a good use of time?

Clear Purpose: Relationships

Every meeting you hold should accomplish two goals that will sound familiar: build relationships and achieve results.

Teams require trust, and that is only built through time spent together, through solving problems, making decisions, and learning how everyone operates, sees the world, and shares information. In addition to the connections built through working together and solving problems, you can also include periodic conversations that build relationships, such as:
◾Cultural conversations to problem solve or celebrate: For example, “What’s really getting in the way of people using our new system?” or, “What have you seen another member do well over the last month?”
◾Elephant-in-the-room conversations: For example, “What are the conversations we’re not having that we should be having?”
◾Mutual-help conversations: For example, “Let’s talk about how we’re working with other departments. What’s working well? Where do we have challenges?” Give people a chance to share and help one another.

These conversations can happen quickly and be a rich source of positive relationships as your people learn to trust each other and help one another.

Clear Purpose: Results

Your meetings should also move the mission of your group, team, and organization forward. In short, meetings should produce action. You got together to solve a problem, make a decision, or share information, and when the meeting ends, it’s time to do something. If your meetings don’t result in clear action, you’ve wasted your time.

Results start with a clear purpose. Are you there to make a decision? If so, is it a decision such as “where are we going” or a “how will we get there”? Keep these discussions separate from one another to ensure brevity and clarity.

Get the Right People in the Room

You want the smallest number of stakeholders that will allow you to make the best decision. Think about the number of people in your meeting as a continuum. On one end, you could hold the meeting with just yourself. It might look funny, but you could sit there by yourself, examine what you know, make a decision, and then share the decision with everyone else.

On the other end of the continuum, you could have everyone—every single person in the organization—attend a meeting. If you have a 50-person organization, all 50 of them would attend, and that would be unwieldy, but if you work in a 10,000-person organization, it would be impossible. So the question is, what is the smallest number of people that can attend but still provide you with good, diverse, and informed input from those who have a stake in the decision?

Where most leaders go wrong is that they invite too many people who share the same perspective and fail to invite key representatives with different vantage points who might help them make a better decision if they had input.

In business, if two men agree, one of them is unnecessary.

~ William Wrigley, Jr.

Remember, the goal of the meeting is to take action. When you take people away from their normal work, you do it so that all of you together can make a better decision than you would have done on your own. You’ll waste everyone’s time if you don’t invite the necessary people to the meeting.

Who Owns the Decision?

At the beginning of the meeting set expectations about how the decision will be made. Will you collect input then make the decision yourself? Will it be a team vote? Will you discuss until everyone can live with one idea? Establish who owns the decision and stick to that process. This eliminates guesswork, eliminates suspicion, and empowers people to make their best arguments.

Include Accountability In Every Decision

Before the meeting concludes, spend five minutes with the group reviewing who will do what and how they will pass that completed step back to the team or the next person. The accountability and next step are baked into the decision. Everyone knows what he or she is accountable to do, the team knows if it’s been completed, and no one is left waiting around for information they need.

Your Turn

Remember, bad meetings are worse than no meetings at all. They’re a corrosive malaise that will eat away at your people until you have a group of zombies shuffling through their day without any meaning or purpose to their work. Use these six tips to hold meetings that are productive – and that people want to attend!

Your Checklist for More Effective Meetings

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Keeping meetings, tight, effective and on-track takes discipline. And meetings that waste time also squander energy, productivity, and money.

When you follow these 15 tips you gain respect and buy-in as you run meetings that are valuable, efficient and productive.

  1. Hold meetings standing up to capture more excitement and reduce the length of the meeting.
  2. Include decision makers so decisions can be finalized at the meeting.
  3. Schedule shorter meetings. Aim for 15 minutes. Time limits keep meetings focused on essential topics. TED talks are limited to 18 minutes or less so presenters will carefully organize their thoughts. Research shows we tend to focus well for 10 to 18 minutes before our minds start to wander.
  4. Make commitments in addition to decisions. Choose someone to be responsible. Steve Jobs called them DRIS — Directly Responsible Individuals. He ended meetings by assigning tasks and commitments. Issue a clear request and require a verbal buy-in. Don’t allow a non-committal “I’ll try.” Assignments give greater accountability and clearer organization.
  5. Use a timer to keep track of time and keep you on target. Determine a specific amount of time for each agenda item. When time is up, assign the next steps and move on.
  6. Leave cellphones at the door. A Marshall School of Business survey indicates you antagonize co-workers by using cell phones in meetings. 86% find it rude to answer phones in meetings. Essentially when you turn from the meeting to your phone, you waste other’s time and tell them they are less important than your call, text or email.
  7. Reduce size of meetings. Try to keep meetings to eight people or fewer. It allows for more creativity and leaves others free to work.
  8. Come to the meeting prepared. Expect every attendee to be prepared with data and ready to answer follow up questions.
  9. Focus the meeting. American Express executive Christopher Frank has said he asks, “What exactly are we meeting about?” Everyone at the meeting answers in five words or less and so insures all are on the same page. Intel has a sign: “If you don’t know the purpose of your meeting, you are prohibited from starting.”
  10. Review reoccurring meetings. Are they necessary? Cancel them if there are no agenda items.
  11. Cut off ramblers. You know the people who harp on one issue or are slow to get to the point. Create a strategy to deal with them. Condense and restate their point and move on.
  12. Write the agenda item as a question. Ask: When will the prototype be ready? Instead of just putting “prototype status” on the agenda.
  13. Get buy-in on completed agenda items. If you move ahead too quickly, you may leave some people still thinking about the last point. Ask if everyone is finished with the current topic before you move to the next.
  14. Take a two-minute pause. After introducing an idea or problem, encourage deep thinking to arrive at ideas, plans, or solutions by calling for two minutes of silence so participants can think.
  15. Set the right tone. Make it clear you are there to solve a problem, not to push your agenda. Be open to input. Talk with participants ahead of time about agenda items and consider their insights as you prepare for your meeting.

Follow these 15 steps and you will become known as someone who runs efficient, productive meetings. People will want to attend your meetings because they know you value their time and get results.

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