Running Effective Meetings

After reading this study guide, you should be able to:

Advantages of meetings
Disadvantages of meetings

Likely to develop better solutions than any one individual could do

May opt for first available solution

Provide free interchange of ideas, stimulates and clarifies thinking

May go on too long, lose track of main issue

Group decisions promote more effective coordination of subsequent action plans

May be difficult to reach a decision

Group is likely to take bigger risk than any individual would

May be difficult to pin responsibility to any individual

Most people at all levels of management attend far too many meetings, and far too many meetings are unproductive. Surveys indicate that, in life, the majority of people are most afraid of having to get up and speak in public - I have no evidence, but I am certain a majority of people also hate attending meetings. Why? They waste time, they waste effort, they achieve nothing, they are dominated by the few, they go over the same things time and time again, they never actually reach any decisions .......... feel free to add your own views if they are not found here!

However, meetings can be an effective tool of management, and with the growing emphasis on teamwork, they also become essential. Nevertheless, bear in mind the cost of attending meetings - they are a resource which must be controlled like any other. The following table is based on a 238 day/year, with 8 hours per day - no overheads or loadings; insert the number attending your meeting at each salary range, and calculate the cost of the meeting, depending on its length. Make sure you put the appropriate currency sign before the figures in the last column so the message is not lost!

Salary pa

1 hour

3.5 hours

1 day

1 week

No Attending
Total Cost

15000

7.88

27.57

63

315.13

20000

10.5

36.76

84

420.17

25000

13.13

45.96

105

525.21

30000

15.76

55.15

126.1

630.25

35000

18.38

64.34

147.1

735.29

40000

21.01

73.53

168.1

840.34

50000

26.26

91.91

210.1

1050.42

60000

31.51

110.29

252.1

1260.5

70000

36.76

128.68

294.1

1470.59

80000

42.02

147.06

336.1

1680.67

Totals

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For a more visual effect, you can purchase a Meeting Clock from Metier Solutions [http://www.metiersolutions.com/t$mer.htm]

The face you are looking at measures 175x65cm. The clock is simple to use - you set the number of people attending, estimate the average hourly rate, an dpres the strat button. For everyone to see, it moves along sweetly, showing the time elspsed - and the cost of the time elapsed. In a meeting of 20 people at a low average salary of $15 per hour, you spend [waste] $75 waiting 15 minutes for the last person to arrive! Multiply that by the number of meetings in a year etc etc, and you can see what we mean. As for the cost of the actual meetings themselves ....... !

There is also another meeting clock on the Web at http://users.erols.com/mmcgur/meetingclock.htm

 

Types of Meetings

These involve the most interaction and are the most difficult to control
 

Rôles at Meetings

1. Chair

2. Secretary

3. Members in General

Group Building Rôles

The Initiator

Suggests new/different ideas/approaches

The Opinion Giver

States pertinent beliefs about the discussion or others' suggestions

The Elaborator

Builds on suggestions made by others

Group Maintenance Rôles

The Tension Reliever

Uses humour or calls for a break at appropriate moments

The Compromiser

Willing to yield when necessary for progress

The Clarifier

Relevant egs, offers rationales, probes for meaning, restates problems

The Tester

Raises questions to test if group is ready to come to a decision

The Summariser

Tries to pull discussion together, reviews progress so far

The Harmoniser

Mediates differences of opinion, reconciles points of view

The Encourager

Praises and supports others in their contributions

The Gate Keeper

Keeps communications open, creates opportunities for participation

Group Blocking Rôles

The Aggressor

Deflates status of others, disagrees and criticises

The Blocker

Stubbornly disagrees, cites unrelated material, returns to previous topics

The Withdrawer

Will not participate, private conversations, takes copious personal notes

The Recognition Seeker

Boasts and talks excessively

The Topic Jumper

Continually changes the subject

The Dominator

Tries to take over, asserts authority, manipulates the group

The Special Pleader

Draws attention to own concerns

The Playboy/Girl

Shows off, tells funny stories, nonchalant, cynical

The Self-Confessor

Talks irrelevantly of own feelings and insights

The Devil's Advocate

More devil than advocate!

This table is based on HC Wedgewood's Fewer Camels, More Horses: Where Committees Go Wrong. Personnel, Vol 44, No 4, July-Aug 1967, pp62-87. Quoted in Pearce, Figgens & Golen. Principles of Communication. New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1984, pp383-384.

Stereotypes You May Expect To Find In A Group

The Chatterbox

Talks continually, rarely on the topic, has little to contribute

The Sleeper

Uninterested in the proceedings, some can sleep with eyes open!

The Destroyer

Crushes any and every idea, can always find something wrong

The Rationalist

Makes worthwhile contributions, ideas are well thought out

The Trapper

Waits for opportune moment to show error has been made - likes to trap the Chair

The Know-All

Tries to monopolise, but can have good ideas

The Thinker

Shy and slow to come forward, but is a great asset

Based on Sadler and Tucker. Common Ground. South Melbourne, Macmillan, 1981. p82.

These two tables show a cynical side, but may well be close to the truth. What you are aiming for is to have a group that resembles one of Belbin's teams.

 

Choosing place and time

If a regular meeting - decided at end of each meeting and confirmed with next agenda.

If ad hoc meeting

secretary or organiser should ensure
  • room is suitable for nature of meeting and number of people
  • time is sufficient to
    • give enough notice
    • complete business satisfactorily

Secretary/organiser and chair should confirm details are satisfactory, then

confirm with members

Equipment, Materials and Furniture Checklist

Agenda

Collecting items

from previous minutes - check on action taken
call from members
call from relevant non-attendees
check with Chair and other key people

Standard items

recurring items should be in the same place in the order
those providing them should be reminded - secretary to ask for copies to save taking notes
copies to be distributed before or at meeting - no need to then read them out - save time!

Sequence

Will depend on your standard operating procedure [SOP]; if none, try:

Format

 

 

 

Go to Conduct of Meetings

 

Return to List of Outlines

Go to Outline 29 - Effective Presentations

Go to the Bibliography

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