THE MANILA TIMES
Business Times p.B1
Saturday, August 29, 2009
LEARNING & INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Make the most of meetings
How much time do you spend in meetings each day? One advantage of successful small enterprises over medium and large organizations is in the number and length of meetings they hold. Long, formal meetings are practically unheard of in small organizations. When they meet they do it on their feet while doing their business—virtual, frequent and informal.
The moment an organization grows, jerk bosses materialize and, oh, how they love meetings. Either they have nothing better to do or they are simply control freaks. They gather people together at the drop of a hat, so to speak, without a clear agenda. These meetings can go anywhere and end up with incomplete action plans. After the meeting, everybody heaves a sigh of relief and go back to what they were doing, no accountability and follow-through. Until the boss calls for another meeting—one-on-one or group.
Real leaders make the most of meeting time; they identify and solve real problems, manage a healthy exchange of ideas, and pinpoint accountability and agree on key result areas.
At the ASTD 2009 International Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C., I was thrilled to meet Tim Burress who gave me a copy of his book, The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to meet less and get more done. (Berrett Koehler Publishers, 2009).
Tim said that there is an art in meeting less and get the opportunity to get more done, be happier in our jobs, and free up more time.
He and his co-authors Mike Song and Vicki Halsey wrote about a meeting reduction tool they called P.O.S.E. or questions to ask when invited to a meeting.
• P is for priority. Does this meeting relate to my top goals for the year? When considering meeting requests, we tend to focus on availability at the expense of priority. A handy list of your high-priority goals provides an easy way to filter out low-priority requests.
• O is for Objenda. Does this meeting have a clearly stated objective and agenda? Our research indicates that 90 percent of all professionals often attend meetings that lack a clearly stated objective and agenda. The result is a meandering meeting that fails to achieve its purpose.
A good objective: To develop five new team-selling tactics that will drive this year's sales over $5million. A bad objective: To update team on sales progress and help each other sell more Spex media services.
A great agenda describes a path to achieving the meeting's stated objective. Answers the question: What will be covered by who and when? Flex to the situation. In other words, a quick 20-minute one-on-one meeting may only require two bullet-pointed agenda items in the meeting invitation.
• S is for Shorten. Can we cut the time we spend attending and scheduling meetings? Why are grown-ups always late for meetings? Dominoes. Meeting dominoes occur when back-to-back, 60-minute meetings are scheduled all through the day. This causes chaos because the first meeting ends right when the second one begins. Because we're too lazy to override the standard meeting duration time, we run around like hamsters all day long. Then the dominoes start to fall. Some are racing to their desks to jump on a teleconference that's already in progress. Many hit a technical snag that makes them even more stressed and late. Others, with face-to-face meetings are dashing across the office to another building. Stressed, cranky and embarrassed. Some are trying to squeeze in an urgent phone call. Others are nervous that they're late for a meeting run by their jerk boss. They're out of breath, unprepared, and in desperate need of a bio-break. The people who are on time are mad and resent the fact that so many people are habitually late.
• E is for E-vailable. Are we effectively using our e-calendars to accurately reflect available times? A blend of electronic and available. Like when a top executive commits to attend an Operation Elevation meeting and then backs out because he had an opening on his calendar but actually had other invisible responsibilities that he failed to take into account. E-vailability means that you improve your e-calendaring skills so that your e-calendar reflects true availability. Color code your e-calendars. Schedule me-time or an appointment with yourself. As a result you meet less and get important work done.
The three authors went on with lots of how-to's in 13 chapters and an epilogue. Very informative and practical guides for real leaders.