Divergent CIO

An innovative, transformative, and digital leader experienced in Technology and Executive Leadership

How to Run an Effective Meeting

Run Effective MeetingWe've all been there: showed up to a meeting at work at the suggested time, only to be met with the blank stares of a few other employees waiting around a table with some stale doughnuts in the center. The boss shows up five minutes late in a tizzy with his coffee and a bunch of loose papers. He talks at you, you listen and don't ad anything because you just want to get out of there, the meeting convenes and everyone goes on his or her way. Sound productive? Nope.


Sadly, though, this is an all-too-real example of how meetings go in the workplace. Mandatory meetings that no one wants to attend or participate in can be very draining not only on the employees but on the boss as well. Such meetings take away from real productivity, interrupting thought processes and causing a gap in the day that could otherwise be spent better solo. However, when meetings have real purpose and are handle effectively, the results can be positive, engaging and worthwhile.


So, as the leader or meeting organizer, how can you run a more effective meeting that everyone will show up to, ready to listen and participate? In general, it's a good idea to prepare a standard agenda template to help people come prepared, stay on task, and document action items.


Establish Clear Objectives
Send out an email to participants 24 hours in advance. Don't just list the time and location of the meeting; give it a specific and defined purpose with clear objectives that spell out exactly what you hope to accomplish, says Forbes. Vague meetings are not a good use of time. Encourage your team members to come prepared to discuss the issue. This puts control in their hands so they feel part of the solution. 


Invite the Core Group
No one likes to be invited to a meeting, disrupting their busy day, if they're not integral to the matter at hand. Invite only the people who have to be there, who can offer insight into the problem and come up with a solution. Don't invite those who are not qualified to addressed the issue or who lack the skills to be of any real assistance. Relevancy is key here, or else you're wasting people's time.


Come up with a Schedule and Stick to It
If time allows, email a brief outline of the meeting to participants beforehand. During the meeting, use visual aids, such as the whiteboard, to illustrate your outline to keep people's attention. Creating such an agenda will help you stay focused yourself to stay on track and cover what you want to within a certain timeline dedicated to each line item.


Follow Up with Action Items
Perhaps the one thing that makes meetings so ineffective is that afterwards, everyone goes their separate ways and forgets what they're supposed to do. That's why you should email a memo outlining what was discussed at the meeting, what solutions were formed, and who is responsible for following through on what tasks. Do this right away, or at least within 24 hours of the meeting so everyone is on the same page. Being clear in these action items will ensure the tasks discussed actually get done, and that everyone is responsible for a small part of the solution. 


In summary, here's a quick takeaway of tips for running an effective meeting:

  • Show up five minutes early
  • Begin the meeting on time
  • Stay on topic
  • Follow a clear agenda
  • No comments on the side that are irrelevant to the topic
  • Don't interrupt
  • Impose time limits on how long each person has the floor
  • Tell participants to leave their phones and tablets behind
  • Challenge ideas; not people
  • Encourage people to participate
  • End on time
  • Email agenda 24 hours ahead of time
  • Email results of meeting within 24 hours with action items
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Creating Highly Effective Teams

LeadershipWhen you think of a team, you think of many different people working together to form a focused cohesive unit. Whether on the ball field on in the board room, teams are an integral component to success. And while individual performance does impact the outcome of the team's efforts, no one person should be greater than the sum of all parts. In a perfect world, this makes sense. In the real world, however, a lot of work has to go on behind the scenes to be the manager of such a well-oiled team. Personal agendas, misguided focus, and just plain laziness often get in the way that can derail the group and prevent it from reaching its goals.

That's why a leader is needed to help hone and create an effective team through a variety of approaches, from clear communication to engagement. Let's take a look at some of those in more detail.


Engage Your Team
As leader, your job is to guide your employees in their overall mission, then step back and let them mature as a solid entity as they take on new and expansive roles and responsibilities. Giving each person his own responsibility and vision empowers individuals, which benefits the team as a whole. Your employees crave the feeling of being valued and challenged, and they are eager to be trusted with the freedom to explore and learn while on the job. A few things you can do:

 

  • Detect and encourage the most positive capabilities in each person.
  • Stop micromanaging and start empowering teammates to discover their full potential. Micromanagement leads to disengagement.
  • Stage them in a position of influence.
  • Share your successes while making them feel an integral part of that accomplishment.
  • Ditch the mind games and be consistent with your approach and style. Have your employees' backs.


Stay Connected
One big reason teams fall apart and lose focus is that they feel disconnected from each other. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to keep people connected, via internal social networks and video conferencing solutions, so team members can get a better sense of how their individual contributions impact their team and the organization as a whole, says Forbes. That's why an investment by your company in these technologies is crucial in an effort to offer flexible work environments that further foster employee engagement.

 

Know Each Team Member's Strengths
An added benefit of the above-mentioned technology is that managers and leaders can more readily keep their fingers on the pulse of the organization in an effort to stay on top of what motivates and inspires employees. However, all the technology in the world won't help you really get to know what makes each person on the team tick. That comes from one-on-one observance, open collaboration, and a healthy rapport between yourself and each team member.

 

Communicate and Set Goals
Frequent communication is key to keeping everyone on track and focused. Check in daily for an overview of progress, make it clear your door is always open, and encourage the free flow of ideas within meetings. Setting clear, focused and attainable goals is another piece of the puzzle. Without them, your team can easily get distracted from the mission, causing time delays and frustration.

Creating highly effective teams doesn't happen overnight. Through collaboration, engagement, communication and goal setting, you can manage a team to success!

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