Tuesday, November 13, 2012

L09: Meetings: Leadership and Productivity

L09: Meetings: Leadership and Productivity


According to A Harvard Business Review article, professionals agree that as much as 50% of that meeting time is unproductive and that up to 25% of meeting time is spent discussing irrelevant issues. That’s why leaders need to be able to plan and conduct the meeting effectively and productively. Doing so requires leadership communication skills and is important in setting precedent for the rest of the organization.

This chapter will help leaders and other meeting planners conduct productive meeting by firstly determining when a meeting is the best forum for achieving the required result; establishing objectives, outcomes, and agenda; performing essential planning; clarifying roles and establishing ground rules; using common problem-solving techniques; managing meeting problems; and ensuring that follow-up occurs.

First of all, leaders need to come up with the clear communication purpose and strategy, as well as analyze the audience to determine whether a meeting is the best forum for what they want to accomplish. Meeting could often have many objectives. However, effective meeting usually have to have only one main overall purpose. Importantly, to make the meeting more productive, leader can write out the purpose and objectives very specifically, then, to start the meeting, tell the audience the intentions of the meeting. To determine topics for the agenda, leaders need to estimate the time it will take to cover each topic and accomplish each objective as realistically as possible. After that, it is important to invite the right attendees who can contribute to achieving the meeting objectives. Then, leaders needs to consider the best setting for the kind of meeting, setting a time for the meeting which is appropriate for every member’s schedule and commitments. Before beginning the meeting, information is also needed to provide to all attendees so that they can prepare further information to facilitate the discussion and accomplish the meeting objectives.

In order to run the meeting smoothly and efficiently, all attendees should corporate and know the decision-making approach. Usually, the leader is a person who sets the tone and creates the decision-making approach for the organization. However, some issues may arise despite the best planning and meeting processes. All meeting leaders and facilitators have to be prepared to handle all problems in ways that not interfere with the meeting objectives or those of the broader organization. The most two common problems that can interfere with creativity are negative thinking and resistance to the ideas of others or change of any kind. The best way to stop negativity is to establish a ground rule outlawing it, and to solve the resistance to ideas; the person may offer an opposing idea or present roadblocks. For some purposes, the leader may want to encourage the contrary ideas and even encourage someone to play devil’s advocate to inspire better ideas as the group argues the pros and cons. Furthermore, when the common meeting problems turn into direct conflict, facilitators need to be more aggressive in their tactics. They must be prepared to manage the conflicts and the people involved before they interrupt meeting progress and in some case even intrude into the overall working environment.

Even though leaders understand the importance of cultural differences, since meeting conflict may arise from cultural differences, leaders will want to be aware of some of the specific issues related to meeting. Leaders should recognize some of these potential issues that will help in managing many of them. No one can know enough about every culture to prevent the misunderstanding situation, but we can be aware of the differences and lead or facilitate the meeting in such a way that we help participants feel more comfortable. It may be dangerous to generalize about personalities and how people will behave in a given situation, but being aware of some of the differences is the most important to help us lead and manage the meeting more effectively. 


1. What is traditional brainstorming?

Purpose:  To generate a lot of ideas
  •        Person is expected to contribute an idea
  •        Ideas are not to be evaluated or judged
  •        Ideas must be captured just as they are
  •        Quantity is what is important, not quality
  •        A facilitator’s role is to keep things moving and make sure the scribe captures all idea
  •          Brainstorming ends when the ideas stop coming or when time runs out

2. How to decide when a meeting is the best forum?

To determine if a meeting is the best forum, ask yourself the following questions:
v        What is the purpose?  What do I hope to accomplish?
v        Will a meeting accomplish that purpose most efficiently?  Most effectively?
v        Can I describe exactly the outcome I am seeking from the meeting?
v         Is our group more productive when we meet?

3. What are the points to be considered while planning a meeting?

While planning a meeting, you should consider
  •       Clarify purpose, objectives, and end products:
  •       Before the meeting or at the beginning, write out and agree on your purpose and objectives.
  •       Align those objectives with the expected end products.
  •       Decide on the following:
  •       Attendees
  •       Location, equipment, and room layout
  •       Materials needed before and during
  •       Meeting timing
  •       Decision-making approach
  •       Create the agenda

To conduct a productive meeting, you will need to do the following:

Review your purpose, end products, and agenda
Establish roles and ground rules
Use common problem-solving methods
Manage meeting problems and conflict

Ensuring Meeting Follow-up Occurs:

·         Assign specific tasks to specific people
·         Review all actions and responsibilities at the end of the meeting
·         Provide a meeting summary with assigned deliverables included
·         Follow-up on action items in a reasonable time

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