6. Manage Control Grow

MEETINGS - Arrange Management and Key Staff meetings weekly

What Is A Meeting?
A meeting is where a group of people come together to discuss issues, to improve communication, to promote coordination or to deal with any matters that are put on the agenda and to help get any jobs done.

For any meeting to be successful it needs the support of the group involved, or the organisation behind it and it must have the intention of achieving some goal or objective.

Purpose of Meetings
You have to be very clear on why you are calling a meeting. That is, you have to be very clear on what you want to accomplish and why you are bringing together the group of people that have been invited.

Meetings are held for any of the following reasons:

  • To sort out any conflicts.
  • To negotiate a contract or agreement, or matters to do with it.
  • To deal with a current problem within the group or within the business or organisation.
  • To receive a report for assessment and review.
  • To supply information to those present or to canvas views of those present on the particular matter at hand.
  • To put forward ideas or systems for consideration and for implementation.
  • To deal with any matters at all concerning a business, or group, or organisation.

Characteristics of a Good Meeting
The following can be held to be the characteristics of any good meeting:

  • It is well organised.
  • The chairman has full control.
  • Everyone present will contribute to the matter at hand.
  • Everyone feels happy and comfortable being there.
  • Any conflicts or bad feeling are soon dealt with.
  • Actual decisions are made on the issues put on the table.
  • Those present are encouraged to openly put forward their views.
  • The meeting is short and to the point.
  • All matters on the agenda are dealt with.

Making Meetings Run Well
Here are some suggestions that contribute to making meetings much more effective:

  • Have a good chairperson who is experienced enough to lead the meeting.
  • Have an agenda which has previously been sent out to all those invited, so all are clear on what is going to be dealt with.
  • Try and encourage everyone to contribute to the matters at hand.
  • Make sure that everyone is committed to action so decisions are actually made.
  • Whatever is discussed, make sure realistic goals are set.
  • If the matters to be discussed are complex, make sure there is enough background information for support.
  • If anyone is giving a presentation, make sure that the person has rehearsed the presentation, using proper visual material.
  • Make sure the meeting has a starting time and finishing time and that the chairman sticks to it.
  • Make it very clear from the beginning what the meeting is to achieve.
  • Limit the number of people at the meeting who are passive listeners only and don’t enter into discussions, or contribute.
  • Make sure that participants are casually dressed so all barriers are broken down and people will be able to mix and relax.
  • Make sure that everyone leaves the meeting totally clear on what has been dealt with and that everyone has a plan of action to achieve whatever the meeting has agreed should be achieved.

Set an Agenda
An agenda sets out clearly why the meeting is being held. It is a statement setting out the matters that need to be dealt with at the meeting that is being called.

An agenda will set out matters for discussion such as:

  • A report.
  • An agreement or contract.
  • A negotiation.
  • New information or feedback.
  • Problems that need to be dealt with.
  • Members needing encouragement or motivation.
  • Problems to be dealt with.
  • New plans or systems to be put before the people.
  • Any matter that needs the support or the views of those present.

Learn to Manage Meetings
Here are some techniques to follow if you are managing meetings:

  1. Make sure you start on time.
  2. Make sure you set out clearly the purpose of the meeting and what you want to achieve.
  3. Make sure that proper minutes are kept of the meeting.
  4. Make sure that there is an agenda and that everyone gets a copy of it before the meeting starts.
  5. Make sure that everyone is focused and able to contribute.
  6. Make sure there is a proper time frame so everyone knows when the meeting starts and when it will end.
  7. Make sure no particular speaker goes on too long with his/her explanations.
  8. Make sure no one strays off the subject and that they keep to the matter at hand.
  9. Make sure that everyone in the meeting has a say at least once.

Dealing With Problems at Meetings
If you are called to be the chairperson at a meeting, you will no doubt encounter problems that occur at most meetings. There are some problems that are common and if they are not dealt with they can cause long-term problems.

These types of things will result in wasted time, frustration and those present will generally make themselves unavailable for future meetings.

Some things that need to be deal with include:

  1. Long-windedness: Some people are naturally long-winded. They talk a lot and can monopolise the meeting. This turns off many other participants. If you are chairing a meeting with long-winded people in attendance, you need to take some action. You may have to use a non-verbal stop sign. This may require you to hold up one hand with palm outward towards the speaker. This is best received if accompanied with a smile rather than a frown, or obvious anger. If nothing happens you may have to take a strong stand, which could include you interrupting and telling the speaker that it is time to hear someone else on the subject.

  2. What about the silent people? Some people are naturally reticent in meetings. These people need to be involved; otherwise you have to ask why they are there. The best way to do it is to pose a minor question to a shy person and ask for their opinion. It should be something they can answer very easily and after the initial answer you can probe for more details.

  3. Any disputes: If there are any disputes, the chair should avoid taking sides in the initial stages. Some disputes at meetings are about things other than finding solutions. They may be about personal agendas or differences and meetings are not the best place to address these issues. As soon as you see signs that a discussion is becoming non-constructive or insulting, then jump in. You can simply say something along the lines of: “I don’t think this is going to resolve the matter at this stage, so let’s just move on.” Try not to become involved emotionally, so react calmly and firmly - never in anger. Finally, if the abuse or issues starts to become a brawl, it would be best to adjourn the meeting and allow everyone to cool down.

Points to Watch When Running One
The chairperson has great responsibility and power when running a meeting. A chairperson should be prepared for anything, including dealing with unruly people. The chairperson should be familiar with all the issues that need to be discussed at the meeting and must at all times display the necessary leadership that will not allow any participant to try and take control of discussions.

The chairperson should:

  • Take full control from the beginning.
  • Make him/her known to all participants of the meeting at the beginning.
  • Be patient with all people when carrying out discussions.
  • Assist in any process necessary to arrive at a consensus.
  • Listen to the views of all participants before making decisions.
  • Give everyone the opportunity to present their views and encourage those who are quiet to make their opinions known.
  • Quietly accept any fresh ideas expressed, provided the ideas support the goals of the meeting.
  • Deal with any issues that are not relevant to the matters being discussed.
  • Quickly handle any potential disputes or arguments.
  • Deal with any members who are long-winded in putting forward their views.

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