Yesterday I was delivering a training course as a refresher to people who regularly organise meetings at a government organisation. As often happens in these situations there were complaints about the poor chairing of meetings, normally by those higher up the organisation.
It never ceases to amaze me how some senior managers forget the importance of all those little things that smooth the way with your team – saying hello in the morning, having a bit of a chat about the weekend, sometimes even fetching the coffees! In this case what was missing was a bit of time spent with the meeting organiser or minute taker and probably some preparation time.
It seems to be accepted in many organisations that by the time you reach a certain level you’ve picked up a range of skills, including how to effectively chair a meeting. As most people experience many times, this is not always the case! You are unusual if you’ve never sat in a meeting and thought “Why am I here? What’s the point of all this? I’ve got better things to do with my time!”
Meetings should be the life blood of an organisation, events where people learn from each other, decisions are made and new ideas aired and developed. But good meetings rely on several good habits – knowing the aims, good control from the chair, ensuring all the information is available and respecting each other. Get it wrong and you end up with frustrated, disillusioned staff and much wasted time and effort. None of this is easy as we’re dealing with that most unpredicatable commodity – the human being! However all is not lost, it’s possible to develop the necessary skills and set up a culture that fosters the required behavoiurs. Take an honest look at the behavours in your organisation and even at yourself and make a committment to improve the situation. Your whole organisation will thank you in the long run.
Do you agree with the generalisation that senior staff often chair meetings badly?
How can we sell the message that they may need to take a different approach to meetings?