Meetings: you can make a difference

IT is not just the meeting leader who can make or break the success of a meeting. Sure, the leader has prime responsibility, but the participants have a key role to play in making meetings effective. It is a good idea for a manager to establish some ground rules to govern the way all participants conduct themselves at meetings. In fact, if you want to improve the quality of your meetings, call a meeting to review the effectiveness of your meetings. The establishment of agreed ground rules during this meeting will be one step toward successful meetings. Here are some suggestions for ground rules for participation to get the ball rolling. It is important that you establish your own with your team and that everyone is committed to follow them. Number each item in the list below. Distribute this list to your group and ask them to pick the 10 most important ground rules for them. Then ask them to give a weight of 10 points to the most important item, 9 points to the next most important item, and so on. Then collect all lists and add the weightings for each numbered ground rule. Select the 12 items with the highest total weighting. Do these up on a board and place it prominently in the meeting room. Refer to it as needed during meetings. GROUND RULES FOR PARTICIPATING IN MEETINGS • Pay attention and respond to other peoples’ ideas and feelings. • Allow others to finish what they are saying - don’t interrupt. • Make open ended enquiries - ask who, what, why, how, where and when. • Accept other points of view as legitimate for them - don’t judge people. • Use active listening techniques such as paraphrasing or summarising to reflect back others’ ideas and feelings. • Encourage free expression - no manipulating or controlling of other people’s ideas and feelings. • Speak in friendly terms - avoid sarcasm and put downs. • Evaluate the ideas not the person. • Create opportunities for other thoughts and feelings to be expressed. • Accept that everybody has perceptions which might not be grounded in fact but are nonetheless important to them. • Separate fact from opinion, assumption and inference. • Build on the ideas of others - extend them further. • Encourage and allow different points of view. • One person speaks at a time - no interrupting. • Focus all conversation on the problem-solving process. • Question your own and other peoples’ assumptions in a non-threatening way. • Declare all assumptions about an issue. • Ask people to give verifiable and specific examples of generalisations. • Ask people to openly state their level of commitment to a decision or a particular course of action. • Have an agenda with time allocated for discussion on each item on the agenda. • Start and finish meetings on time. • Review every meeting for success and effectiveness. • Invoke the rule of ‘respectful challenge’ on the grounds of relevance, substance or time when people are rambling. • Differing opinions are encouraged and acceptable. • Ground all discussion in action - agree who, what, by when. These articles are from the international best-selling books, ‘You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really.’ Volumes 1, 2 and 3 by Daniel Kehoe published by McGraw Hill. for on-line orders. Daniel Kehoe provides a range of tools for leadership, people management and business improvement to small, medium and large organisations including the You Lead, They’ll Follow Experience® and Systematic-Innovation® - one of the best ideas management systems on the planet. For further information visit: ; 08 9477 1135;

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