Friday, December 27, 2013

Management Memes: How to Run a Successful Meeting, Part Two of Two: Coaching the Meeting

This tip is for anyone that is tired of meetings wasting your time. 

Not like this, I hope.

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL MEETING, Part Two of Two

The meeting's all set up. The goal is written in plain English on the board. The agenda is clear and actionable. The attendees are in place, facing the whiteboard, and they are paying attention. (See Part One if you need a refresher.)
You're on deck to make it happen. This is going to be easy. 

Does the coach
play the game? Nope!
YOU ARE THE COACH, NOT THE PERSON WITH THE ANSWERS
Getting up in front of a group of people can be scary. Doing it without knowing what's going to happen in a meeting can also be scary. 
Our goal here is to set you up to succeed, so you can be comfortable in your own skin while you allow the team to come up with the answers themselves. 

TELL THEM
Let the team know that your goal is to facilitate and not to dictate. While you are the person with final say, their opinions and experience are to be listened to while things are evaluated.

HOUSEKEEPING
At the beginning of the meeting, let everyone know these things:
  • Your role is to facilitate the meeting, not dominate it.
  • Additional Agenda Items are to be added as we go. 
  • Verify that everyone has enough time to complete this meeting. One hour max. 
  • Any To Do items are to be added to an ongoing list.
  • If new items that are unrelated come up, they are to be tracked separately.

Who, What, When?
START WITH THE FIRST AGENDA ITEM
Read it out loud. Is it something that we really need to work on? Is it written in a way that everyone understands what needs to be done? Who is responsible for this item? Are we asking the right questions? Who knows the right question? When can you get an answer?

TRACK THE ANSWERS
For each agenda item, know WHO is going to do WHAT and WHEN it is to be completed. Write these on the board so everyone knows what they are responsible for. 

TIMEKEEPING
After each item, check the clock and let everyone know how many minutes remain in the meeting. You'll know when you need to update everyone, so this is something you'll have to adjust as needed. 

ACTION ITEMS
You can never
predict everything
For anything that does not fit within a "to do" for an agenda item, add a new section on the whiteboard for Action Items. Keep these together in this section. WHO, WHAT, WHEN are required for these as well. 

NEW ISSUES
Invariably, new problems come up and they may not have anything to do with topics in your meeting. In order to show respect for the person that brought them up, and to allow others in the room to percolate on them, make a note of them on the board. You can come back to those if you have time at the end of the meeting, or handle them in any other way you choose, but do NOT ignore or forget them. 

LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT
Continue the agenda items until you are completed. Then do a gut check with the team. Did we complete our original goal? If not, talk about it and figure out what should be done. This isn't a rare occurrence, so be ready for that eventuality. Start with checking your original premises and agenda items. 

FOLLOW UP WITH EMAIL
Documentation!
The real secret is ensuring full communication that can be shared with everyone. Once the meeting is over, a summary of the meeting must be sent to everyone, with the WHO WHAT WHEN clearly documented. 

If you are in a pinch, you can take a picture of the whiteboard and mail it, but that is not acceptable as a rule.  

Members have 24 hours to notify you of any errors, otherwise they are held responsible for their items.


THAT'S IT! 
There's really not a secret to this stuff other than to not take anything personally. Your role is to perform as a coach and put structure to the experience. 
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I hope this helps you and if it doesn't, please let me know in the comments section so I can update this in a useful manner!

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What do I know?

Feel free to look me up here.

meme mēm noun: an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means, esp. imitation.

As a manager (and reader of a bunch of management stuff) for the past 20 years, I have had requests for management tips. Some things work; some don't. Some are magical wins. Some are spectacular failures. Your mileage may vary. Whatever the case, these techniques have worked magic for me, time and time again.

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