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Monday, November 21, 2011

Meetings (UGH!)

If a company has 2 employees or more, meetings are absolutely essential to running a business.  Getting everyone on the same page and organizing tasks takes alone time and it takes team face time. The number and quality of meetings requires thought and planning.  Too many meetings and people cannot get their real work done.  Too few and you may not have the organization and timings you needed to accomplish a particular project.

Duration of meetings is something to consider.  I have been in meetings that lasted all day. But, everything could have been accomplished in about an hour.  I have also been in meetings where the boss runs in barks out some instructions and leaves; short meetings are liked for duration but may leave too much unclear.  After the a meeting of this type, everyone spends lots of time trying to figure out what they are supposed to do and how to get it done.

I kind of like the meetings that have a short presentation to set the background and outline what needs to be done.  If the boss does not know, then he leaves a slide for brainstorming discussions.  The goal of this time is to lay out the strategy and steps.  If the meeting is running too long, then consolidate the thoughts and have a second meeting to review and discuss the process and timings.

The better prepared the boss is, the better the meeting should flow.  It helps to take time to have individual discussions in advance in order to gain the background before calling the meeting.  The boss needs to be educated sometimes, but not in a long meeting with everyone in it.  Learning the info and planning prior to getting everyone together works better.

Sometimes, meetings for brainstorming can be done off site or around pizza.  Get everyone relaxed and toss out ideas.  Have someone keep notes and try to summarize the thoughts for later.  Brainstorming in a relaxed environment can yield ideas that are more creative if the team is not afraid of looking silly or stupid.

I have been in meetings where the boss just berated everyone in the meeting one by one.  Maybe that worked for him, but all it did was have everyone wanting to see the boss leave.  People want to be treated with respect.  Being intentionally aggressive or ugly to them in public is not a great way to build a team.

I particularly remember a boss that had a unique talent of having discussions that carried multiple meanings.  It took me 2 years to learn I had to pin him down on every point to make sure I understood what he really was saying.  Being unclear or too politically correct does not provide useful guidance to your team.  Figure how to make specific statements that are not ambiguous when you provide instructions to your team.

In short, meetings are essential.  Try to organize good meetings that get to the point and yield outcomes quickly.  People may learn to like you, work harder, try more, accomplish more, and meet your timelines; if you are not being a real ASS!