What Is Right For The Business?

Many employees work very hard to perform their  daily tasks, but they make mistakes and got blamed for it. The first reaction from their superiors is to look for the obvious mistakes and shortfalls in following the plans, procedure or regulations. Catching the obvious mistake is easy but will only solve the problem momentarily. Eliminating the cause of the problem is very difficult. Sometimes, the organization needs to change the procedures, review their assumptions or even ask themselves if they need the workers to perform that task at all. The following discussion and examples will show how mistakes and errors can take place and how we can we eliminate these mistakes immediately and permanently. Long term solutions needs time, effort and big budget, but eliminating a reoccurring problem will worth the cost, effort and time spent. Read More …

Meetings: Sneaker Time?

Listen to this postMost of us have been in a meeting which ended without solving the discussed issues. The meeting participants leave the meeting to meet again in the nearby walkway to discuss the unfinished subject from the meeting. Sometimes they continue the discussion over the phone to complain how unproductive the meeting was. They use the phone to conclude some of the issues discussed in the meeting.
Sneaker time is the time spent by the meeting participants after the meeting discussing the open issues. Sneaker time discussion takes more time and waste many resources. The discussion after the meeting is usually between 2-3 meeting participants, the rest of the participants are not aware of the followup discussion and there is a good chance that they will not even know the outcome of the follow-up discussion.
Meeting discussion is usually documented and circulated for information and action. Sneaker time discussion is rarely documented and almost never circulated. The actions items from the sneaker time discussion can be dangerous because only few people know about them and approve them. These action may contradict with other action items generated by another group in side discussions similar to the sneaker time.
Well managed meetings should discuss and analyze the meeting agenda’s times to reach solutions and action plan that prevent the need for further discussion. The meeting chairperson should manage the meeting while thinking of the possibility of sneaker time after the meeting. The target should be to reduce the sneaker time to meeting time ratio. The meeting participants should leave the meeting without the need for further discussion on the meeting action items.

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Meetings: Why Do We Need An Agenda?

You may ask “why do we need an agenda? We all know what we are going to discuss.” Preparing the agenda takes time and in some meetings people do not even look at it. The agenda is a contract between the meeting participants during the meeting. They are committed to the time allocated for each discussion item and they agree on what to (or not to) discuss. Some people are professional in hijacking the meeting. They will steer the discussion to a subject not in the agenda and consume the meeting time to discuss their personal agenda. Most of the time they will start with a shocking or outrages comment that grab everybody’s attention then direct a question to one of the participants (or the meeting chairperson) to answer. When they finish the discussion on that subject the will say “A similar situation or maybe worse is about ….” and the discussion will continue to serve their personal agenda. They would consume most of the meeting’s time before anybody could notice it. The best solution for such people is to say “I am sure this is an important subject that you are bringing to the meeting, but it is not listed in the agenda. We will schedule it at the end of the meeting or you may ask for a separate meeting to give it the time it deserves.”

One of the first signs of a good meeting is a well written agenda. The agenda should have the title of the meeting (the subject) and the start and end time. The exact location for the meeting should be clearly stated. You will need a map with clear directions (like Google maps) if some of the meeting participants are new to the meeting location. The agenda should have a list of the discussion items written in simple and clear language. Please avoid the trade lingo, slang, abbreviations or general statements like “Discuss the situation in XYZ” you may know what is the situation and what is XYZ but other participants may not know or could misunderstood both of them. Estimate how long each item in the list will take and record it next to it. The participants will know how much time is available for that item and be ready to finish their discussion within the available time. They can call and ask for extra time before the affirming the agenda or at least before the meeting could start. Always add 5-10 minutes at the end of the agenda for new items but please do not allow for more than that. If the new item needs more time then schedule a new meeting for that new item.

The meeting participants can read the agenda and prepare themselves for the discussion by researching the subject and preparing important documents (tables, drawings or maps) to support their argument. without the agenda some participants would answer “I did not know that you are going to discus XYZ subject, I am to ready to discuss it, I will come back tot you on …”

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Meetings: What Is Really Going On?

Listen to this postWe spend few hours everyday in meetings. Some meetings are short and simple, like a one-on-one meeting to discuss specific issues and take decisions. Other meetings are usually last between half to full hour with attendance between 3 to 7 participants half of them do not know why they are sent to the meeting. Some meetings are large, noisy, crowded and long. They are more like a workshop than a meeting but they exist in the business world and many of us had survived few of them. These large meetings are the least productive meetings because they are difficult to control. It would be almost impossible In such meetings to listen to every participants’ input and give them enough time to discuss their thoughts.
Mismanaged meeting consume the management time and effort and hold the participants in a place were they are only listening instead of working on important issues outside the meeting. You will know that you are in a mismanaged meeting when the participates have side talks and others are frequently checking their iPhones and Blackberries instead of participating in the meeting. You will know that you have been in a good meeting when everybody leave the room knowing enough about the subject to describe it to anybody who ask them about it later. The participants in a good meeting will leave the meeting with a set of actions to take with a specific outcome on a target date. They know whom they should contact for clarifications and to whom they should report their progress. This post is an introduction to a series of posts on the same subject I will be updating in the coming days.

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