Start Each Meeting With Clear Expectations
How much thought have you given to setting expectations for your meetings? When I work with Leadership Teams, I set the meeting expectations at the start of Focus Day™, and at every session thereafter during the entire length of our work together.
The purpose for setting meeting expectations is to help every person in attendance stay focused, have an opportunity to participate, and get value from the meeting. So here are my expectations for each meeting I facilitate:
- No sidebars. A private conversation between two people when someone has the floor is the greatest insult to that person. A private conversation suggests that topic is more important, interrupts your ability to listen to the speaker, and is distracting to others around the table.
- Tangent alert. This is a verbal prompt I use and encourage others to use when the discussion veers off course. When we stray from a discussion, we lose sight of why we were having the discussion in the first place. So, if we are talking about our company’s exhibit for the upcoming trade show, and someone asks if the new logo has been finalized, we need someone to quietly say “tangent alert.” That reminds us to finish the discussion about the trade show, after which we can talk about the new logo.
- Comfortable with the uncomfortable.There are times when a discussion is uncomfortable. We may need to solve an issue related to someone’s performance, or their attitude, or an unsuccessful project. Take a deep breath, take ownership of the issue, and focus on the facts. The toughest part is the 10 seconds it takes to state the topic.
- No electronics. Teams are best served in meetings when everyone disconnects. Yes, that means no laptops and put your cell phone in silence mode. Using laptops and cell phones in meetings encourages us to do something other than listen and participate. The one exception is using a tablet with a stylus for taking notes – no typing.
- No politics.We want to hear everything everyone has to say, and we only need to hear it once. If you say it twice, you are politicking. When we politic we are campaigning for our team, our seat, our project. We serve the company best when we focus on the greater good.
- Participate. It’s a privilege to be here, and preparation and energy are linked. Show up as though it matters to you; it’s the only way to ensure you receive value.
Does this list sound like insignificant ideas? Perhaps. Yet I encourage you to give these meeting expectations a try. What could be better than having people come to a meeting prepared, energized, focused, and participating?
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