Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Leading Meetings

As a leader, how do you lead open, honest, productive meetings?

Meetings without outcomes are a waste of time. Yet, many meetings fail to produce results because the conversation circles around the issues rather than focusing on them. To make sure decisions happen and people take action, you need to have a productive dialogue. Here are five things every meeting
should be:
  1. Open. The outcomes of your meeting should not be predetermined. Questions like, "What are we missing?", "Who else needs to be here?", "What voices are not represented at this table?" signal honest searching for a range of perspectives and more broad-based thinking.
  2. Candid. Encourage people to air conflicts. When people express their real opinions, productivity increases.  A quick 'go round' of the table to ask "What;s working for you and what isn't?" can help surface issues that need to be tabled. 
  3. Informal. Keep it loose. Conversations should be unscripted with honest questions and spontaneity...yet with meeting processes in place so that it's not unending.  This in itself takes lots of practice as the leader of meetings.
  4. Conclusive. Everyone should leave knowing exactly what they are expected to do.  A quick check-in helps.  Again, a quick 'go round' of the table to ask, "What's your action coming out of our meeting?" helps solidify the actions and confirms that the meeting had purpose. 
  5. Reflective - a few days after the meeting, check in with a few people to ask how it went.  Are meetings helping us accomplish what we want to accomplish?  Being sincere in seeking this input helps staff know that you're serious about their opinions and that you value both their opinions and their work.  

Adapted from Harvard Business Review on Making Smart Decisions.

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