some serious meeting-itis

call me weird, but i really enjoy meetings. they involve people, creativity, movement, communication … all things i enjoy. mondays are my meeting days and it actually adds a little bounce to my step because when meetings run well, i feel a stronger sense of team and productivity.

however, over the years in various settings, there has been an occasional meeting that i walk out with my head throbbing and wondering “what was that?!” in most cases, i can usually point to one of these reasons:

1. everyone was there – too many people for the task at hand. at some point, too many people complicates decision-making and planning. range of opinions doesn’t have to be achieved through quantity of opinions. an excess of viewpoints will frustrate things, so instead of having every opinion at the table, consolidate and keep the group small.

2. nobody was there – what i’m talking about here is when you’ve got a room full of people but nobody is engaged. it’s hard, but close the laptop. turn off the phone. unplug and re-engage. what i’ve found is that in most cases the only laptop that should be used is one that everyone can see. if you are un-engaged, it communicates that you don’t feel needed for a meeting that isn’t important to you (that’s not bad, but let the leader know that you feel your time could be better spent. it may encourage them to change the tone of the meeting, or they may even excuse you). i’ve always admire that most of the “higher ups” i’ve worked with have most frequently resisted the urge to take phone calls. that’s quite an example.

3. he was there – him. or her. the one who can take over the meeting. i know that i can be that guy if i’m not careful, so i have to try to be sensitive to knowing my role in a meeting. in some meetings its my job to be a set of ears. in some, it’s my job to only slightly alter the discussion by contributing a needed perspective. i’m never in a meeting (including the ones i’m leading) to take over the discussion. it’s everyone’s role to involve everyone else.

4. he/she wasn’t there – there’s not much that is more discouraging than a meeting of individuals who feel unable decide anything because of the absence of a key player. good meetings empower teams, which can still be achieved when key players are missing.

5. “it” wasn’t there – the goal of the meeting was missing. it’s like running a race with no starting line and no finish line. have a goal and an agenda for that meeting in front of people and make sure things stay focused and moving.

i know this is an odd post, especially for thanksgiving week. it was inspired in part by swerve‘s recent posts: here, here, here and here. Patrick Lencioni is also worth a mention. good stuff. the trick for me is realizing that i can be guilty of any of these 5 things. so, don’t be at a meeting that my presence will complicate. be at the meetings i’m at. know my role. empower meetings when i’m not there. do my part to keep meetings focused.

i’m curious what one thing makes meetings extra special for you? bring it.


~ by bradherndon on November 25, 2008.

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