Make Business Meetings fun and revitalizing!
Planning business meetings revolve around achieving corporate excellence in today’s competitive business environment. It is as simple as shifting the traditional rules of running a meeting to bringing in new tactics that focus on one issue at a time, and encourage contentious dialogue around the constant development of a forward-looking identity, lean management and shared vision for the organization. Purpose-driven meetings are empowering, offer members a dedicated platform for constructive communication, the opportunity to develop work skills and leadership, and are morale boosting.
Banish Deadly Meetings
Eradicate habitual views such as ‘people don’t take meetings seriously; they arrive late, leave early, and spend most of their time in absent-minded doodling’ by structuring a proactive agenda that groups topics that match the aim of the gathering so people can leave the meeting when their area under discussion is complete. This tactic will greatly facilitate efficient productivity since people complain that ‘meetings are too long, cover issues that are irrelevant to them, and encroach on their normal work obligations’.
Initiate Lively Meetings
Every business, whether it has two employees or 500 and more, set regular meetings as a strategy to plan the organization’s goals and determine who will do what by when. Meetings are an important way for management and employees to collaborate, explore innovative proposals and delegate work to employees. It is vital that employees are provided with the right level of support to get the job done well, including a clear outline of the task and expectations, access to relevant primary information, resources and training; the designated employee must be held accountable to deliver the pre-determined outcomes. Every employee must feel inspired to perform at their best and confident to act on own initiative to get the job done well. It is important to dispel the negative belief many employees have of meetings, ‘that nothing happens once the meeting ends and that people don’t convert decisions into action’.
After each presentation, take a two-minute break
It is important that people at the meeting stay alert. Make sure the room is well lit and ventilated. Here are some ideas to help them remain attentive:
- Get everyone to stand up, jump on the spot for 10 seconds, and stretch their arms above their head, lean to the left, lean to the right, lean forward to touch their toes [or knees] and to sit back down. Play up-tempo music so that individuals can move to the rhythm.
- Get everyone to participate in tossing a beach ball randomly to people standing around the boardroom table.
- Hand out a clump of play dough to each person and have them make something, anything.
- Play ‘What’s in the Box’ and have each person imagine what they are holding before removing the item from the box. Fill the box with items such as sandpaper, felt, golf ball, sock, comb, calculator, stress ball, candle, bulldog clip, and mouse pad.
- Value the power of food at a meeting: Food helps people sustain positive energy levels. Offer snack food such as fruit [apples, berries], yoghurt, nuts [walnuts and almonds], sunflower seeds, and bottled water. An idea for a healthy light lunch: garden salad [lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, grilled chicken strips or tuna], wholegrain or rye bread, coffee and dark chocolate bonbons.
Pick the right person
The assumption ‘that nothing happens once the meeting ends and that people don’t convert decisions into action’ rarely occurs because employees lack enthusiasm or have a poor work ethic; in most instances they leave a meeting with a conflicting analysis of what was discussed and decided upon and don’t know what should happen next. The best way to avoid any misunderstanding is to focus attention on one issue at a time and to make firm decisions when discussions are concluded. A guideline to follow when delegating work is to establish who has the requisite capability, interest, expertise and enthusiasm for personal growth to entrust the duty. The purpose of delegating a job to the right person is to engage loyalty, commitment, a sense of belonging, and personal empowerment. From this emerges a vibrant commitment to carry out strategies to cultivate a business philosophy of continual improvement and an engaging corporate culture.
Maximize Efficiency through Teamwork
As a business grows, different problems and opportunities demand different solutions. Today more of what people do [including meetings] takes place in teams. Successful teams are well-balanced, represented by specialists from relevant areas of interest or departments, bringing together individuals who each contribute unique skills and abilities. Good communication allows team members to learn from one another and augment the game plan as the business meeting unfolds. Author Phil Baguley puts it in perspective in his book ‘Teams and Team-Working’; he defines a team as ‘a group of people who work together towards a shared and meaningful outcome in ways that combine their individual skills and abilities and for which they are all responsible’. Baguley further states that behind virtually every business success is a close-knit team, but creating a well-oiled machine out of a diverse group of employees takes skill. By breaking down his definition we can see that several conditions must be satisfied if we wish to call ourselves a business team:
- A team must consist of a group of people [business units or departments]
- Team members must work together [everyone must know who is responsible for which actions, what the budget is, and which tasks have already been accomplished]
- A team must work towards a shared and meaningful outcome [project/micro management]
- An effective team must combine its members’ individual skills and abilities [monitoring schedule performance, responding to change requests, setting up ad hoc team meetings]
Mutualism and Teamwork
Collaborative relationships are a vital part of effective teamwork, particularly for business meetings. It is however critical that individual members pursue the right kind of relationships within their team dynamics. While mutualistic relationships benefit everyone [ensuring a win-win outcome and are sustainable over the long-term] conflicting viewpoints and aspirations may collide with established norms, both socially and within work environments. Consequently, business leaders need to put together an appropriate Succession Plan that collates the demographics of its workforce on the subject of [but is not limited to] race, gender, ethnicity, organizational function, and educational background. The aim of Succession Planning is to provide the organization with information whereby employees are recruited and developed to fill key positions within the company, develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities, and prepare them for advancement or promotion into ever more challenging roles.
- Identify employees with the potential to assume greater responsibility within the organization
- Provide critical development experiences to those that demonstrate the aptitude to move into key roles
- Engage leadership opportunities
- Improve employee commitment and retention
- Upgrade career development expectations of existing employees
Corporate Culture Dictates
Working effectively as a team has to do with much more than a group of people sitting around a boardroom table, discussing challenges and evaluating common goals. In general, individuals operate according to the team’s modus operandi; companies have preset times to arrive at work, take refreshment breaks or clock out and must follow rigid rules and procedures governing leave entitlement. Most employees are expected to adhere to a specific dress code. More often than not, the business’s corporate culture dictates professional behavior at work. As a member of a team you need insights into how other interrelated departments within the organization correlate with your area of expertise, including how you interact with suppliers, competitors, product manufacturers, stakeholder groups, government agencies, trade unions, and the media.
Call to Action
It is important to observe the relationships between team members, determining whether existing goals are supported by close-knit mutualistic interaction. Talk face-to-face and take interest in an individual’s point of view. Clear and effective communication is a prerequisite for any group wanting to work effectively as a team. The language used in delivering presentations will depend on the topic being conveyed, based on the needs of the audience. Avoid using excessive jargon as some members of the audience, team or group may not be familiar with these phrases. Summarize the discussion and answer any questions to make sure everyone fully understands the intention of the proposal; conclude with a plan of action so that everyone at the meeting will know who is doing what by when.
Words by Theresa Lutge-Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)