What should be our meeting rules of engagement?

by admin on November 1, 2009

00:10 Answer: Last week you saw the behavioral requirements for meeting leaders. That inventory was useful for several purposes: (1) to assess your meeting leadership style; (2) to enable your team to give feedback to you or to others who run their meetings; and (3) to show meeting leaders in your company how to maximize their effectiveness. This week you’ll see how the people who don’t occupy the seat at the head of the table are expected to contribute to meeting success.

I would post this set of ground rules in my conference room—if I had one! And if I was the meeting leader, I’d ask each team member to sign on that they would strive to meet these expectations (be sure to click through to read all 14).

1. Prior to the meeting perform any follow up to a previous meeting that you agreed to undertake, make any other requested preparation, and respond to any requests from the leader for suggested agenda items.

2. Arrive on time with the supporting materials you need for fully effective participation. Before the meeting actually begins study the agenda and start your mental preparation for the topics at hand.

3. Listen to your colleagues when they speak. Don’t interrupt. If listening is a challenge for you, briefly paraphrase the previous speaker out loud before you offer your thoughts.

4. Avoid side bar conversations unless they are necessary to improve the value or accuracy of something you are about to contribute. This is pretty rude stuff.

5. Participate actively, making the input that reflects the unique expertise or experience you bring to the table.

6. Don’t dominate discussions. Be brief and crisp when you make a point. Don’t say something three different ways. Don’t give detail that others won’t appreciate. Don’t tell unneeded side stories. Don’t fall in love with your voice. Don’t belabor your points the way I’m belaboring this one.

7. Stick to the agenda rather than going off on tangents or verbalizing matters of self interest. If you feel the need to state a related but not totally germane idea, volunteer it for the “parking lot.”

8. Don’t do outside work at the meeting—not on computers, PDA’s, or paper. Hold your twittering for later. One exception here is when you get permission from the team to take a critical message expected during the meeting.

9. Return on time to the room following every time out. When you allow a fifteen minute break to transpire while still back at your desk, you disrespect your coworkers.

10. Support your colleagues by adding information that strengthens and sharpens their ideas. Before you introduce any new train of thought into a discussion either first build on the current train to complete it or ask if people agree that it’s over and that you can move on.

11. Help prevent group think by challenging the assumptions and ideas of others when you don’t agree with them. In the same way, be open to an evaluation of your conjecture.

12. Attack ideas without assaulting people; keep “you” out of the confrontation. (See the 7/22/09 ASK on delivering constructive criticism.)

13. Get advance permission from the meeting leader if you must leave early. It’s a welcome sign of respect.

14. Willingly volunteer to carry your share of the load for any follow up required from the meeting. When you do, follow though!

Additional: You don’t need to ask me for permission to post all or a portion of these expectations on your corporate board room wall. Be my guest!

Aphorism: I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of a national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting. ~Ronald Reagan

Approaching: Send me an email for a sneak preview of any of these “coming attractions.”

11/18: How can I get employees to provide world class service to customers?

12/2: How can I get employees to provide world class service to each other?

12/16: What should I have on my list of goals for personal achievement?

12/30: What is the essence of emotional competence?

1/13: What can I do about a coworker who’s driving me crazy?

1/27: What is the explanation for my greatest frustration in life?

2/10: How can we best handle our disgruntled customers?

2/24: How do I get employees to take continuous improvement more seriously?

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