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Managing Meetings


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Managing Meetings

  1. 1. Lesson 23 Managing MeetingsWe spend a lot of time at our workplaces, and a large portion of that time is spent in meetings. If theseare not effectively administered this has a huge impact on our motivation levels and generalproductivity. Unfortunately business schools do not always teach us how to manage meetings. In thisvery practical lesson we explore various ways in which meetings can be better managed.I. Why do people find workplace meetings “challenging”? A. The wrong people are present. 1. No decision-makers 2. No quorum 3. Important departmental representation omitted. 4. Having a group meeting which would have been more effective 1-on-1. B. People are given very short notice with regards to the meeting. C. Meetings often run far too long. D. No minutes of the meeting are taken, hence there is no accountability. 1. No accountability for deliverables. 2. No accountability for resolutions made. E. Incorrect timing of the meeting. 1. Often meetings are timed to suit only the chairperson but not the attendees. 2. Often meetings take place at a time of day when everyone is distracted with other demands. 3. Often meetings take place prematurely with everyone ill prepared. 4. Often group meets before significant 1-on-1 meetings with key stake-holders. F. Ineffective minutes are taken. Minutes should focus on the resolutions made, the individuals responsible for delivery and the deadlines set. Unfortunately minutes often try to keep a record of discussions as opposed to resolutions. Hence, it becomes a tedious task to record them and read them. G. Late or non-existent agenda for the meeting. 1. A late agenda still helps to bring focus to the meeting but people are often ill prepared for the discussion. 2. Having no agenda can frustrate many who need to know where the meeting is going. Having an agenda gives one peace of mind. H. Unclear start and finish time. I. Continuously bringing up issues which were resolved in previous meetings. J. A single individual dominating a meeting. K. Lack of preparation. L. Doing work in the meeting which could have been done individually. Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda (Student Notes with Answers) 120
  2. 2. M. No decisions made in the meeting. To solve this one can divide the agenda into 1. Issues requiring a decision 2. Issues just for discussion 3. Information sharing (presentations). In a lot of meetings it is unclear whether an issue is just for discussion or whether one needs to drive towards a resolution. N. Group Think. Group think is a phenomenon where members of a group second guess each other resulting in the true individual perspectives not being shared. O. Too much unnecessary detail. There are many issues that can be dealt with by a sub-committee and often the solution lies in giving executive summaries at meetings. P. An Ineffective chairperson. Q. Tardiness. R. Too many meetings. S. Poor conditions in meeting room. 1. Too hot (no aircon). 2. Working through meal times with no food - people are hungry and unproductive. 3. Meeting room situated where there is a lot of noise or visual distractions. T. The meeting is illegitimate. Often meetings are called where there is no authority to call the meeting Sometimes meetings are called to discuss a matter which has been sanctioned for a different group to tackle. U. The purpose of the meeting is unclear.II. What are some useful guidelines for running meetings efficiently?Here are some guidelines used by Research International, a large research organization inJohannesburg. In their guidelines they also make use of a template which assists employees inadministering effective meetings:To ensure meetings are speedy, decisive and a valuable use of your time and the business’ time,make sure you stick to the following – whether you’re a participant, organiser or ‘chair’. Clarity Input Output Purpose Actions & decisions: Agenda Who & when Preparation required by How they’ll be followed up attendees How & where they are being recorded Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda (Student Notes with Answers) 121
  3. 3. Speed Turn up on time – obvious stuff but how many of us arrive 5-10 minutes late? If you can, start the meeting on time even if everyone’s not there Put a timing against each of the agenda items Keep focused – don’t let meetings overrun Think about how long the meeting needs to take – with a focused agenda, could it be 30 minutes instead of an hour? Decisive Be clear on what decisions need to be made and be prepared to contribute positively to discussions to get them agreed Remember we’re aiming for alignment over consensus. Team Are the right people at the meeting? Make sure you know why you’re attending and what you’re contributing Meetings don’t work because of one person – ensure everyone makes a contribution and has their sayContemporary Each meeting is an opportunity to inject some new thinking into ‘the way we do things around here’ Integrity Meetings aren’t passive events: Turn up! Be constructive Keep your attention on the meeting vs your blackberry, mobile etc etc… If you’ve committed to an action – do it!III. What is a useful template for running a meeting? Input Purpose: Agenda: Participants: Preparation needed: Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda (Student Notes with Answers) 122
  4. 4. Output Decisions made: Actions Owner DeadlineIV. In what ways can the effective governance of meetings be incorporatedinto corporate culture?Outlined below are some guidelines for governance of meetings used by an organization Iworked for. Although we did not stick to this 100%, the guidelines helped to create a culture ofeffectively running meetings. We subsequently incorporated these guidelines into the OfficeProcedures manual.The issue of Authority and Responsibility i.e. decision making power and measure of ruleought to be defined for every meeting held at this organization.The following different types of meetings are identified to be operating at this organisation • Board Meetings – Board of Directors meetings for purposes of policy setting, strategic planning and direction • Management Meetings – e.g. Executive, Events, Admin, Day-to-day operational meetings. • Committee Meetings – Departmental meetings for purposes of co-ordination and communication • Work Group Gatherings – Ad-hoc meetings, appointed Sub-Committee meetings for purposes of event planning, trouble-shooting & monitoring progressBusiness God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda (Student Notes with Answers) 123
  5. 5. The following 12 procedures and guidelines have been adopted for purposes of governance ofmeetings held at this organization. 1. Authority to call meetings – Approval ought to be obtained by the respective authority. An agreed Chairman and Purpose of the meeting should be clearly defined 2. In order to ensure that Information is being Communicated Upwards, Minutes should necessarily be submitted to a higher authority 3. An itemized Agenda & Agreed Purpose of a meeting should be sent to all members due to attend a meeting 4. The Required Notice Period for a meeting within this organization is between 7 and 14 days dependent on the nature of the meeting 5. The Starting and Finishing Time of a meeting ought to be stated on the agenda or advised to members before any meeting commences 6. The Chairperson is responsible to Call a Meeting to Order, without Delay. Accordingly a 10 Minute Late Arrival Time Rule, also applicable to the Chairperson, is prescribed for all meetings i.e. A meeting may be adjourned as a result of late arrival of members. 7. The 100% Quorum Principle prescribed for all meetings – Any apologies are to be given directly to the Chairperson, preferably 24 hours prior to any meeting. Whenever apologies are tendered, an empowered representative is to be nominated for each meeting i.e. any proxy appointed in place of a member who has decision making power and is expected to exercise that power at the meeting 8. All Cell Phones are to be put on to silent mode during meetings 9. Preparation for Meetings– It will be taken that all minutes have been read before a meeting and that members are accountable and prepared to answer for assigned responsibilities 10. Planning dairies or task schedulers are to be brought to all meetings for planning purposes 11. Reports Tabled at Meetings • All project proposals; financial statements and like-reports for consideration at a meeting should be pre-circulated no less than 3 working days prior to a meeting for study purposes. One page update or feedback reports should be pre-circulated no less than 24 hours before the meeting • An Executive Summary concerning the purpose of any Report being tabled for consideration should necessarily be included with the Report i.e. Any Report being presented to a meeting for consideration ought to be presented for the purposes of adoption, verification or approval 12. Minutes – Copies, Confidentiality & Distribution • All members are responsible to bring their own Copies of the Minutes of the previous Meeting and the Agenda of the current Meeting to a meeting. It is recommended that copies of minutes be personally identified by name to ensure good stewardship of minutes at meetings • All minutes should be marked as Private and Confidential • Confidentiality & Security of Minutes should be is of primary importance No copies of minutes should be left at the photocopy machine or at any central printing station nor should any minutes be left lying around for any other reason Staff working in Open Plan Office workstations should be alert to the possibility of Minutes being viewed by passers by. Screen savers with passwords are recommended • All minutes are to be Distributed within 2 working days of the meeting. Upon the receipt of a copy of the Minutes of a meeting, it is recommended that aBusiness God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda (Student Notes with Answers) 124
  6. 6. confirmation or acknowledgement of receipt be communicated to the secretary accordingly. • Acceptable Means of Distribution of Minutes include e-mail and hard copy dependent on individual requested preference specified at a first meeting. Any communication details should be provided at a first meeting and any subsequent changes should be advised to the secretary, as soon as possible.Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda (Student Notes with Answers) 125