Meetings, Size Matters

Synergy

noun, plural synergies.

the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism.
 meeting room
The Good:
Certainly meetings do that when you get the right people together at the right time to address a common problem or opportunity.  In a perfect world this powerful collaboration will produce results that are unbelievable. However, ……
The Bad:
When the wrong combination of players are assembled the obvious results are bad (or no) decisions, waste of time and damaged morale.  Typically this occurs when:
1. There is not a clearly defined stated purpose for the meeting.  If you don’t know where you are going any path will get you there. Have an agenda and any supporting visual aides.
2. The facilitator (or lack thereof) does not keep the discussion ‘on topic’
3. The group does not have the authority required to implement a change. Usually this collection of  problem definers share their opinions on ‘how bad things are’ with no solution or even a recommendation to present to the group or individual with the power to do something.
The Ugly:
1. Whether meeting face to face,  conference (audio) call, or video Skype or Google Hangout START ON TIME. Respect those who are ready to start and waiting for you.  When someone joins late they either miss part of the discussion, or worse, make the others have to reenact the previous portion.
2. Don’t interrupt the person speaking.  It breaks their chain of thought and is confusing to others.  Sometimes these lively interactions can lead to non productive arguments with negative outcomes.
3. Pay attention and listen carefully to the person speaking.  Do not be reading a newspaper, texting on your phone, etc.
3. On audio or video conference calls do not be ‘tapping your pencil’ on the table or other distracting noises.  You probably don’t even realize you are doing it but drives the others on the call crazy.  Same with music or other background sounds.  It is usually best to keep your microphone muted until you need to speak.
4. Don’t even meet without a reason.  The “we always get together at this place and time” is no excuse for meeting.  If it is a scheduled meeting where everyone knows what is being presented and discussed, limit the time to just that.  Don’t fall into the “work expands to fill the time allotted” pattern.
and last …. SIZE MATTERS!
My experience is the effectiveness of the meeting is inversely proportional to the size of the group.
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Do I need a Calendar? Yes Virginia, but only ONE

retro_alarmclockOn my first management job my new boss was getting me set up with office supplies for my desk.  He asked “What kind of Calendar do you like to use?”. Trying to get off on the right foot I said “It doesn’t matter to me, whatever you think is best”.  He replied that there were the type that you tear off one day at a time, some were like a small notebook that showed a week at a time or a large blotter type that covered most of the desk that showed a whole month.  I said that I did not have any strong preference.  His reply, “Look I don’t care which one you choose, I just want you to use one.  And I only want you to use ONE!”.

This ONE calendar approach has worked well over the years.  I have seen others who keep appointment cards in their purse or wallet or have them stuck to the refrigerator door with a magnet. If you don’t have your calendar with you you are likely to miss appointments or agree to dates where there is a scheduling conflict.

With today’s technology you can keep a single calendar that allows you to access the schedule from your desktop PC, Tablet, Smartphone or even your Smartwatch.  This approach allows you to instantly check your availability for any suggested meetings or appointments.

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