Running Effective Meetings

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Running Effective Meetings

Some key benefits of "doing it right"

  • You will have fewer, and shorter meetings
  • Your meetings will be more productive, that is, better decisions will be made and made more quickly, and people will "buy in" to those decisions. Buy-in will lead to commitment and commitment to follow-up action.

The results -

  • Higher quality plans and decisions

  • Greater organizational efficiency

  • More competitive business

  • Higher staff moral

  • Less staff turnover

  • Avoid Groupthink

  • You may even reduce staff turnover and re-training costs!

The system promoted by LGA is effective in addressing many of the causes of ineffective meetings.  We call it "Make Meetings Work". To find out more, follow the link to  If You Really Have to Run a Meeting

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The questions you need to ask are:

  • Why should I be concerned about meetings at all? Costs!
  • Why do I run meetings at all?
  • If I really must run a meeting, what is the objective of the meeting? (and that is not such a self evident question)
  • Knowing the objective of the meetings, what is the appropriate form for the meeting?
  • If  it's likely that the meeting will have multiple forms how can I ensure that the transitions from one form to the other occur effectively? (Because poorly managed transitions are one of the major causes of ineffective meetings)

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Why should we be concerned about meetings?

Because :

  • It has been estimated that they consume about 17% of an organizations "horsepower" in time:

  • preparing for

  • attending

  • de-briefing and following up on

  • "climbing down" from

  • They affect almost every aspect of the business from strategic planning meetings to one-on-one meetings. In addition to the astronomical cost of that 17% of the "horsepower", ineffective meetings affect:

  • human resource efficiency

  • morale

  • staff turnover

  • training costs

Some research suggests that almost one third of all meetings are considered unnecessary by the people who attend them!  That is a monumental waste of time! When managers are asked what are the areas of inefficiency in their daily work their answers tend have similarities. Meetings are called too frequently, last too long, and often end with unsatisfactory results.

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Consider what proportion of meetings in your organization fit into the category of "unnecessary" Do some of your meetings have the following characteristics:

  • an issue remains unresolved at the end of the meeting
  • the same issue seems to return meeting after meeting
  • arguments seem to go "round in circles"
  • only a small percentage of the group participate in the discussion
  • a small group of people seem to dominate the meeting
  • people talk at cross purposes
  • all issues are not taken up and systematically dealt with
  • people do not remember all the different arguments
  • decisions are taken without consensus
  • participants do not 'buy in" to the decisions taken at the meeting
  • people feel the meeting was a complete waste of time?

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If the items above are the things you see, the following are some of the results:

  • frustration and annoyance to many attendees

  • valuable productive time is wasted

  • people's attitude becomes counter productive

  • people become discouraged from attending meetings

  • commitment to decisions is low

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How does the boss stay boss?

A common concern of managers is they feel that, as the decision maker, they really have to be the chairperson all the time. This concern is valid and is addressed in this way. As boss you decide:

  • What’s on the agenda (you can invite proposals)

  • Who attends the meeting

  • What each person’s role is during the meeting

  • What the form of the meetings is (ideas gathering, problem solving decision making)

As boss you:

  • Specify the scope and ground rules of the meeting

  • Open, close and supervise transitions from one form of the meeting to another

  • Specify how much participation you want from participants

  • Specify at the start of the meeting HOW decisions will be made:

  • consensus

  • vote

  • unilaterally by you after listening to opinions

So, as boss you still have the authority and still have to make the difficult decisions.

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But why do you (as the boss) sometimes need a facilitator? 

Because it’s impossible for the boss to be neutral. The boss usually has an interest in a particular solution to a problem so how can he/she be impartial "You can't be the team quarterback, the referee, and the score keeper at the same time without having an unmanageable conflict of interest"

If you really want to get the "best" decision from a group of participants you need to get a high level of participation and open discussion. To achieve this you must stand down from the position of chairperson or "facilitator".

KJ Method, Language Processing? 

Numerous terms are used to describe this very effective method for processing qualitative data. variations of the technique are known as The KJ method, the Metaplan Method, The Moderation Method and Language Processing. The KJ method  is attributed to a Japanese anthropologist who developed it in the 1950s. It is used in many fields as a follow-on from the ubiquitous brainstorming technique. The technique is used extensively in the ZOPP or LFA process and is a very effective tool for managing several aspects of some types of meeting.

Why do I Need to Call a Meeting?

Meetings are called for numerous reasons. For example:

To pass out or share information to many
To gather information from many
To exchange information between many
To resolve problems
To reach consensus

The problems that frequently arise at meetings are often caused by:

  • misuse of meetings, that is using meetings when other means of communication are better

  • unmanaged transitions from one type of meeting to another. For example when a briefing meeting inadvertently turns into a problem solving meetings for which few of the participants are prepared.

It is vital that the all-to-often time-consuming meeting be used appropriately and effectively. 

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Last modified: March 01, 2006