Do your meetings remember political debates? First of all, this is a non-partisan post.
Like many others, I’m actively watching and following the Presidential debates. While the behaviors during the debates make for great TV and journalistic fodder they would make for unproductive business meetings. Here are five ways to know if your meetings operate more like political debates and thereby impacting their effectiveness.
Questions go unanswered: People deflect answering a question by redirecting the question to someone else or another topic that they are able to address.
The facts are being twisted: For those who are really clever and calculating, they can manipulate the facts and rewrite history to support their POV.
People are talking over each other: People aren’t listening to each other. Instead there is a fight to take up as much air space as possible thinking they will get their way by talking the point to death.
The originator loses control of the meeting: Someone hijacks the meeting to focus on their agenda. This demonstrates a lack of respect for the person who called the meeting and the other participants.
Getting too personal: People attack another’s character or abilities versus focusing on the business issues. The meeting becomes highly subjective vs. objective and people will quickly feel under attack and disengage.
Here are five tips to ensure your meetings are productive:
Set the agenda in advance: People should know why you are calling the meeting, what you hope to accomplish and key topics to be covered.
Prep people in advance: If you are expecting people to contribute they must be notified beforehand and made aware of their role in the meeting.
Set the tone: From the outset of the meeting, lay out the agenda, the time frame and the intended results.
Keep control: You called the meeting and you need to keep order. Reign people in if they go off on a tangent and keep every one focused on the agenda.
Recap: Make sure you allow for at least 5 minutes at the end to summarize the decisions and actions moving forward.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with healthy debates and vigorous discussion in business meetings. However, in most business settings time and resources are precious. To be an effective leader you must be able to run effective meetings that engage, inspire and motivate.