- June 23, 2016
- Posted by: Joan H. Underwood
- Category: People
Meetings at work present great opportunities to showcase your talent. Do not let them go to waste.
Welcome to the fourth and final issue in our Great Meeting series. Having covered the essentials of meeting preparation, facilitation and follow-up, this week we turn our attention to a grab bag of other tips and techniques from soup to nuts that can help you and your team increase the efficacy of meetings. Most of these lessons learnt came from my time on what to date is still the most high-performing team I’ve had the privilege to lead or observe at work i.e. the HR Department at ABI Holdings Ltd. Those ladies continue to inspire me with their professionalism as well as their individual and collective strength, authenticity and ability to get the job done.
Creative Formats: Introducing the ABI HR Huddle
You’ve probably heard of the stand-up meeting being used as an incentive for participants to keep things short and to the point. Here’s how my ABI HR team and I used it to secure alignment, preserve a sense of urgency and eliminate busy, non-productive work?
Every morning, we would gather in the common area of our department and take turns answering the following questions:
- What’s on your plate (agenda) for today?
- How does that link in/align with the department’s strategic objectives?
- What assistance/support do you require in order to achieve your goals?
Depending on each person’s responses to these questions, we might take a decision to request that persons defer their planned agenda in order to pitch in and assist a colleague with a task that was more pressing/time sensitive.
In addition to helping us remain productive and focused, the huddles ensured that we were all aware of what was happening. This amped up our department’s efficiency as it enabled us to pinch hit for each other. It also built camaraderie as persons with slim agendas readily volunteered to help out their peers knowing that their colleagues would reciprocate when the shoe was on the other foot.
Establish and Communicate Ground Rules Well in Advance
During the meeting is the time for rule enforcement not rule establishment. Otherwise, you risk having your agenda go sideways as participants debate whether they consider the rule(s) in question acceptable. In fact, depending on the culture within your organization or the mind-set of your stakeholder invitees, you may wish to adopt alternative language and refer to terms of engagement as opposed to rules. Some folks especially persons over whom you have no legitimate authority may have an almost visceral response to being presented with rules.
This section is for both males and females, so I hope you won’t gloss over it. Be on the lookout for cases of manterruping and bropropriating. What??!!
Manterrupting: Unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man. Ref: when Kanye West made his way on the stage to interrupt/disrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech during the MTV Music Awards
Bropropriating: Taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it. Ref: research published by Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton business school professor Adam Grant describe this as as follows: “When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.
Those who know better do better. So, now that these two counterproductive meeting practices have been flagged, we hope that you will wage a campaign to eliminate them from your meetings (or prevent them from starting).
Follow-up –Find the Sweet Spot
When it comes to follow-up, the goal is to find the sweet spot between abdicating responsibility and micro-managing. Once you’ve prepared and confirmed the plan of action including task owners, reporting schedules, required support/resources and due dates, you’ve laid the foundation for your participants to execute. However, that doesn’t mean that you can sit back and assume that cruise control will get you to the desired destination. Rather, what is required is vigilance and a light touch on the steering wheel/controls to adjust as required based on any course deviations resulting from unforeseen circumstances. This light-touch follow up also sends a clear signal to your colleagues that their contribution is important and that you’re committed to supporting them in a way that is free of judgment yet fully committed to the desired outcomes.
That brings us to the end of our four-part series on Great Meetings. Thanks to those who provided feedback either via comments on the website or via direct messages. UTDS is glad to have contributed to your individual and/or organizational development in this key area. We continue to welcome your questions, comments and suggestions for other issues you’d like to see addressed in future blogs.