Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Death by (Staff) Meeting

Have you experienced it? The slow, life sucking, gut-churning, mind-numbing event called a staff meeting? You are probably part of the herd whose experience is that meetings are finger nails on the blackboard. I am.

Here's my confession: leading a good meeting is not naturally me. It is for my wife. She's locked and loaded when she's chairing. In fact, if I scour my my mind it's hard for me to find any meetings where I didn't come out frustrated, defeated or brain-dead. A personal dream I have is to observe meetings of the 10 best gurus who would give me the opportunity to learn. Why? Because, I hate to admit it, meetings are important.

Patrick Lencioni wrote a helpful fable he titled Death by Meeting. It's an easy read, but probably you'll do just as well to download his Meeting Model and other summaries from Lencioni will increase your repertoire on the kinds of meetings you can have

Here's my tips to direct winning meetings.
1. Define your win. Every meeting has some purpose. Know it and celebrate it publicaly when it happens.
2. Listen, then engage. Don't drone on people. That's boring. Let others have the bulk of the talking time. Listen for the interesting comments, the unspoken "fishing" statement (the one that slyly asks "is anyone really listening to me" and respond. Recognize the person's statement, reframe or rephrase for clarification, then ask others to comment.
3. Summarize key ideas and their author. It's a double win when someone comes up with a great perspective, then receives public recognition for their acumen (that's a $10 word for "great work!").
4. Define next steps. What action needs to happen and who is responsible for it? If you don't "bell the cat" before the meeting is over nothing much will happen afterwards.

These actions won't ensure 100% success, but they may raise your batting average for better meetings.

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