Meetings — Transformational tool or an excuse for the boss to grandstand?

The pandemic has made many of us think about their style, substance and how we all interact with each other to bring forward our stylish substance.

Transformational leadership is a term to emerge with the personal agenda on how a transformational leader will:-

- Maximise the performance of those in their team

- Inspire teams to higher levels of achievement

- Assign tasks to team members based on knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses

- Create a supportive working environment

- Stimulate team members to challenge the way they are doing things.

Do you recognise your own job descriptions already in these 5 bullet points?

According to Forbes — Blake Morgan this is the approach for leadership of the future.

What about the here and now?

The subject of leadership is immense and the stuff of 896,000,000 internet hits for ‘leadership courses’.

What of the tools and techniques to deliver transformative approaches? Go back to your search session and type in ‘meetings’ and be amazed at the billions of hits in under a second.

During the last year, we have become fixated with meetings and what they are for?

Harvard Business Review , Hbr, published ‘How to Run a Meeting’ March 1976 asking the opening question ‘Why have a meeting anyway?’. Regularly, meetings are about appearances more than the substance of progressing any of the 5 transformative elements.

Occasion to pose and claim the moral high ground?

Or opportunity to develop the mission for the team?

Define roles in your team to hit the objectives delivering the mission?

This has certainly come home (pun included) during the CoV-SARS-2 pandemic The Economist has tracked the manner we have reacted to lockdowns How has life changed Aug 2020. Next to this — How we, those of us with the choice, want our work to progress The rise of working from home. Thirdly, where further research has shown we are not all natural screen performers — love-them-or-hate-them-virtual-meetings-are-here-to-stay

Consequently, issues of management and leadership, no matter the different styles, come forward. From this naturally stems the point:-

a meeting is a tool and, as with all tools, there is a technique to using it well.

A few things before agreeing to the next Zoom conference call, Microsoft Teams session, GoogleMeet mass gathering or maybe back on good old Skype for that team talk. Possibly, back to in person meetings.

Interestingly, while calling these face-to-face meetings, the factors beyond the face in how we communicate are highlighted by the love-them-or-hate-them-virtual-meetings-are-here-to-stay piece. When thinking back to those meetings and projecting forward, how about these questions?

Who is sitting where?

Doing what with their phone, tablet, laptop and feet?

Did they dress to impress?

What do you sense is their personality type? Do they need drawing out or shutting down (to put it very prosaically, consequently pointing to the need to understand more on personality types and team dynamics.

There are plenty of pieces out there on what to do make a good meeting — check out the reference Hbr — How to run a meeting as a near historic starting point.

Something worth saying is worth saying again. And worth reinforcing with other elements of communication.

Think about your management, and leadership, styles as you organise, run or take part in your next meeting (think on this — attending? Or participating?).

Use the meeting to reinforce energy and momentum. Happy transforming

Before the Meeting

a) What is the meeting intended to achieve?

b) Has everyone been prepared to contribute to maximum effect?

c) Is the agenda agreed?

d) Who is running the session? This includes chairing the meet but, most importantly, who is picking up on what next from decisions taken.

e) If the sum of the parts, ie all meeting together, is less than undertaking a series of one-on-one sessions, then the meeting should be re-evaluated

The old adage — prior preparation prevents poor performance — comes to mind. Rambling sessions because people have not prepared destroys the collective energy.

During the Meeting

f) Stick to the agenda. Do not get taken off track but do ensure good ideas are highlighted and key people are set to pick ideas and make them come to fruition

g) Stick to time.

h) Set out expectations collectively (remembering you are a transformative leader and so know your team and yourself — worth returning to these points?).

i) Full engagement — people there are there to contribute and receive — to have actions and decisions for actions attributed to them.

j) Record decisions and actions to be taken (Ensure the meeting is the tool and not the end in itself).

The piece from Antony Jay on Hbr — How to run a meeting is a quality reference with real detail about being in the meet. If you are struggling with your meetings, this will certainly prompt your thinking and question further knowledge about your team, their styles and substance. May reflect on yourself and your own working and communications style.

After the Meeting

k) Minutes taken and circulated in timely and tactical fashion. This is to say, routine meet, within a day (maximum). Set-piece event, 5 days to consolidate and circulate. Fresh in the mind, minutes, with decisions taken actions required, are the next steps for individuals to take their work forward.

l) Follow up. Not when is the next meeting but the work of being a manager, leader, colleague and collaborator on delivering against decisions taken.

A major element transforming meetings in recent years must be the tools developed for collaborative working.

Let us not confuse the substance of collaborative working with meetings for the sake of meetings. Online working with a team effectively in real time to develop elements may well have a bearing on what you call a meeting, why you want or need meetings. See Design — Designers fundamental company competitiveness?.

Be prepared to question yourself and what meetings are about and how they are structured and run. If nothing else, SARS-CoV-2 may well cause us to think again about meetings where the major agenda item seems to be — time of next meeting.

Happy, absolutely buoyant, committed transforming. Here to keep you and your team positive.



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