Monday, March 28, 2016

JANUARY TRAVEL: Bored with Your Own Meeting? Then Do it Right!

Back in College at UPLB, one of my housemates was an instructor at the College of Engineering.  I remember his one problem, he finds his classes boring (Yes, he was the instructor. Yes he knew it was his fault). I can still hear him say leaving our apartment, “I’m going to head out to my boring class…”

We've all had our share of having to endure instead of enjoy meetings. But do meetings really have to be a necessary evil that all must endure? The answer is NO and the key is to understand what effective meetings are.

There are millions of resources on leading meetings effectively on the internet.
There are thousands of books on this subject
There are countless opinions from leaders
If you have google, you can have access to them all.
What I presented was a combination of research, experiment, experience, theory and what I think works for our context in Victory Philippines. These are principle-based information rather than step-based. Hope it helps.

Elements of a good meeting:
PURPOSE - Why meet? Is a meeting the best way to handle this? If not, then DON'T MEET. But if it is (based on a valid reason),  by all means, meet!
Valid reasons for calling a meeting are plenty: 
Reporting, Updating, Evaluating, Vision casting; Problem-Solving, Decision-making; Deliberation; Planning; Brainstorming; Training, Skill-building, Etc
If we want our meetings to be effective, our reason must warrant a face to face discussion. (Even if it is just for asking questions or entertaining clarifications.) Otherwise, it is probably better to send an e-mail. Bottomline question: Do we need a meeting for this? If yes, call it. 

PLACE - This depends on the kind of meeting which actually depends on the purpose:

REPORT & INFORMATION ORIENTED MEETINGS - a boardroom equipped with presentation equipment 
DECISION-MAKING & PROBLEM-SOLVING MEETINGS - Solving oriented Meetings - somewhere private, conducive for intense discussions or heated debates.
CREATIVE & BRAINSTORMING TYPE MEETINGS - Somewhere less formal, conducive for a free-flowing, high level energy mtg. avoid scheduling it after lunch.
TRAINING & SKILL BUILDING MEETINGS - somewhere conducive for learning, Class rooms, lecture halls, workshop rooms

PROMPTNESS - Starting and ending on time is one of the best practices of a good meeting. (some argue that starting on time and ending before time is even better) In effective meetings, the leader insists that everyone respects the time allotted. Some even go as far as to recommend not spending time recapping for latecomers. This is why appointing someone to be the TIME KEEPER really helps. 

PEOPLE - Who needs to be there? (attendance) Only those who can help fulfill the purpose of the meeting. 
And it is best if everyone in the meeting is on the same page in terms of the organization's Mission, Values and Culture

PREPAREDNESS - It is not enough to have the right people in your meeting, they have to be prepared to  contribute in order to have an effective meeting. These can be achieved by:

HAVING AN AGENDA - provides direction and a boundary for the meeting; gives participants an opportunity to prepare for the meeting if sent ahead of time.
ASSIGNING PRE-WORK - data or any kind of information prepared ahead of time by participants of the meeting. 

PARTICIPATION - Who always talks and who never talks? when you are the only one doing all the talking, something is wrong with the meeting. When someone never talks? Something is wrong with the meeting. Why is he/she not talking? Why is he/she there in the first place? Remember the two components of meetings: face2face and discussion.  If you are the only one talking, that is not a discussion. If there is someone in your meeting that never talks, the potential fruit of your team meeting is never met.
The most effective meetings are filled with interactions: 
opinions, comments, suggestions, perspectives, insights, proposals, reactions, questions, clarifications, Yes. Even objections. 
In a  meeting, it is always helpful if you can assign this four major roles in a meeting:

Owner - sets the agenda and calls the meeting 
Facilitator  - presides/facilitates the meeting 
Recorder - Minute taker, records important details of the meeting like questions raised and assignments given 
Time Keeper - well, he keeps the time. makes sure  the leader is reminded of it!
Participants - the people who are expected to actively participate in the meeting

It is important that everyone sticks to their roles to achieve the best results
*usually the owner chooses to preside the meeting but he can also choose to be a participant and assigns someone else to be the facilitator

PAPER - a recorded, distributed and filed essential details of the meeting: 
discussion (some go as far as to audio record the discussion), decisions, assignments,concerns that have been placed in the parking lot. 
Parking Lot - This helpful device  performs two useful functions: First, it serves to keep the meeting focused on the stated agenda. Second, to acknowledge important points by attendees 
NOTE: The parking lot habit must be combined by the follow up habit

PESO - How much will this meeting cost? (consider logistics: will you have food? printing, rental of place, chairs, tables, will this be offsite or just at the office) and who pays for it? 

A good meeting is both efficient (doing meetings right) and effective (doing the right meeting) but a good meeting must first be effective before it is efficient (do the right meeting, then do it right).

It's good how to know how to do it, it's even better if we could train another to do it since we never get to do anything permanently in our movement (meaning, times do come when we are assigned more or different responsibilities) we can use this opportunity to train future campus directors or pastors

TIP: you can start by involving the person in creating an agenda, calling the meetings, letting him/her try the roles.

No comments: