Not too long ago, I was at a meeting where an introduction of new officers for the group was part of the agenda. Introducing a slate of officers is not new but the method used certainly was.
“Please tweet your introduction,” we were informed.
While we didn’t literally use Twitter, we did follow the rule to limit our introduction to 140 characters, just like a tweet. One thing about Twitter – it certainly shows you that you can be brief and get to the point when you have to do so.
One of the top ten time wasters is meetings. We go to meetings. We run meetings. We try to get out of meetings.
On the other hand, one of the top things an employer is looking for is someone who can work with a team. No matter if you are the boss, a community leader, a consultant, an employee or a member of a community or club committee, you need to make meetings and teamwork be a productive time…even if you hate meetings- or maybe it should be said “Especially if you hate meetings.”
Making the Most of Meetings
Start on time. If you are not running a club or business meeting today, you might be tomorrow. One thing you will find about meetings is that effective leaders begin on time. Starting on time means you have reassured everyone that their time is valuable, that you mean business and that you have a goal to accomplish. Chit-chat can go on for hours. Let people socialize after the meeting not before.
Have a goal. Never have a meeting for meeting’s sake. Don’t have a meeting because it is the first of the month and you have a meeting at the first of the month. Every meeting should have a clearly defined reason for being there. What do you hope to accomplish? In fact, one of the best things you can do is to write that goal on the top and bottom of your draft agenda as a reminder to stay on task.
Build an agenda. Think of an agenda as a road map. Even if a discussion goes off course, this road map guides you back to the goal. It is an organized way to make sure that everything- and everyone – is included.
Boost interest and attendance beforehand. Let everyone know not just when the meeting will start but when it will end. Everyone wants to plan their day. Have an ending. Send out an agenda and a goal. This allows everyone to prepare for the meeting. Prepared people get their information shared in a quick way. Unprepared people hold everyone up.
Meetings are NOT for teamwork. You might think that is odd but it is true. A meeting is for reporting in on teamwork. It is not for a team to work out its issues while everyone waits. This means you set an expectation that people come to a meeting armed with the information they need to present. It is not the time to be gathering information. In other words, insist that everyone do their homework. Don’t get sidetracked by someone or some team that isn’t ready. Instead, you be ready to interrupt and ask them to make a decision or gather information and report on it at the next meeting and move on.
Take notes. Use promptly. Keep track of who offered to do things and what they volunteered to do. Immediately after your meeting, email anyone that stepped up at a meeting and thank them and remind them of what they promised you. Put a deadline in writing. Also, if someone was not prepared, do remind them immediately following the meeting of the materials or info that they need to have in hand and the deadline. As the saying goes “Strike while the iron is hot.”
Stick to your end time. Set an alarm. Use a timer. Allocate blocks of time for subjects and then move on. If you don’t finish at your planned time, end anyway and take it up following the meeting or at the next meeting.
Making the Most of Teamwork
I’ll be honest. Teamwork is never easy. I know that a few times I’ve thought “It would be so much easier to do this myself.” I imagine you have thought the same.
While it might be easier, it wouldn’t be wiser. One person cannot possibly have every idea nor know every consequence to a choice of actions. Nor can you do it all yourself. Anyone trying to be their best productive self knows that it is sudden-death to productivity to try to do it all yourself.
So now that I’ve established that teamwork is inevitable, how do you make the best of it?
Attitude. Now’s the time to kick your “I don’t want to be here” attitude to the curb. Even if you have to pretend to want to be there, then pretend. Be pleasant to work with. Be positive.
Be Open Minded. Your ideas might be great but they might not be the best ones. Go in open minded and listen to other ideas. Don’t quickly shoot other ideas down. A great leader recognizes other person’s strengths. Be sure to recognize good ideas verbally.
Do Speak Up. Don’t just go with the flow. While you do want to listen to other ideas, make sure that you do share the ones you have. Share concerns you may have. Sometimes, the best way to share a concern is in the form of a question. Rather than an attack, a question allows for someone to explain something back to you.
Take Notes. Write down anything you are expected to do or to find out about. Find out who you are to report back to. Ask when they need this information. Establish a deadline. Once out of the meeting, note deadlines and to-do’s on your calendar.