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Leadership Skills for New and Aspiring Middle Leaders
Honestly, how many hours have you wasted in this week, this month? How many meetings you’ve attended have been clear, focussed and prompt? How many have just descended into random discussion?
Follow the steps below and I think you can cut the time you spend in meetings by half. Imagine what you could do with all that extra time in your day!
What Would Happen If You Didn’t Have a Meeting?
Some regular meetings acquire a momentum of their own – “We have to have it because its the weekly team leaders meeting.” Do you really need to all sit down together? What would happen if you didn’t? Could you convey the information required without one?
Set an Appropriate Length of Time
It’s amazing how most meetings are scheduled for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, a period or an hour. Be more creative with the time you allot meetings. If you currently have a 30 minute one scheduled, try scaling that back to 20 minutes. My bet would be you still cover all of the important ground.
Plan a Clear Agenda
Every meeting should have a purpose, an outcome which you expect to achieve. That’s not the same as knowing what decisions you’ll make, but it does mean knowing you’ll make a decision on something. To assist this, plan out a clear agenda so that everyone knows what will be discussed. Try to anticipate key objections so that people can marshal their arguments and their data in advance.
Encourage All Participants to Prepare Before
As a rough rule of thumb, every participant should spend as long preparing before the meeting as they do actually in the meeting itself. Any documents should be produced and circulated in advance enough to make sure that everybody has read them and understands them before they start. You don’t want a situation (which I endured in countless governor meetings) where people take time to read documents during the meeting they should have read well in advance. That isn’t a productive use of anyone’s time.
Start on Time, Be Rigorous
Whenever your meeting is due to start, start. That will soon convince the latecomers that coming late isn’t an option. Even if they miss out first time, they’ll soon get the idea. Be rigorous about the time alloted to various parts of the agenda too. Too often meetings drift as everyone spends half their time on the first point on the agenda, leaving the remainder glossed over or ignored in a rush at the end.
Step In to Prevent Long Off Topic Rants
Keeping to time will mean you’ll need to be a strong chair. By all means let people have their say, but when they’re not contibuting anything new, or are completely off topic, step in to keep the meeting flowing.
Write Up and Follow Up
Just as you spend as long preparing before the meeting as you spend in it, I think you should spend as long after the meeting making sure all the action points were covered off. If nothing changes as a result of your meeting, ultimately it was worthless. Make sure yours isn’t!