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Are you meeting expectations? -Daniel Kehoe

HAVE you ever worked out the number of hours you spend in meetings each week? Meetings are seen by many as a waste of time. Why is that so? ‘Because they chew up valuable time which could be better used in doing the real work’, could be the most common response. But until somebody comes up with a better way, and technology hasn’t done it yet, meetings are essential to the human condition in the workplace. As much as they are maligned, meetings still represent the best available communication and consultative process for maximising effectiveness, exchanging information and perceptions, confirming engagement and commitment and improving performance. There is nothing wrong with meetings, but there may be in the way that they are conducted. And that responsibility lies not only with the meeting leader, but the participants as well. Run your meetings through this checklist and answer these questions: What needs to happen? What could we do better? • The need for and benefits of improving team meetings are agreed. • Participants raise issues to include on agendas. • Before the meeting, we circulate the agenda and its objectives and agree the input required from relevant people. • We think through the issues before the meeting to plan our contribution. • We set a time limit on the meeting’s duration that will allow enough time for the discussion of all agreed objectives. • We start and end the meeting on time. • The number of objectives is limited to those that can be achieved within the time available. • We employ different ways of making the meeting interesting. • The objectives, format and expectations are clarified at the start of the meeting. • The key points and decisions reached during the meeting are recorded by all relevant people. • The leadership role is rotated so that other people develop the confidence and competence to conduct effective meetings. • Different roles are allocated to people (eg timekeeper, facilitator, recorder) to ensure we are kept on task. • We are comfortable with a person in the group playing the ‘devil’s advocate’ role without placing pressure to conform to the group. • We use the information they highlight to explore options. • Participation is encouraged by ensuring that every person’s contribution is heard and by asking questions of non-contributors. • We ensure that all discussion is relevant to the objectives of the meeting. • Our discussions during our meetings are open and effective. • We explore differences in opinion so the best option is determined. • The composition of our people at meetings changes to fit the skill and work requirements of the meeting agenda. • We maintain a record of what is agreed, who will do what and by when. • Ground rules governing the way we conduct ourselves during meetings are agreed and applied. • Meetings are held at a frequency and duration to maintain an effective focus on team performance. • Decisions made during meetings are followed through. • We have different types of meetings and processes to accomplish our purposes and goals. We implement them accordingly. • The effectiveness of our meetings is reviewed appropriately. • The timing, duration and frequency of meetings are effective. • Ways to improve the effectiveness of our meetings are explored and applied.

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