Another problem is that, in all the hubbub, people sometimes feel too busy to communicate at all. How often have you learned something important about your organization from a client or supplier? Rarely is the omission intentional. It usually occurs because a suitable opportunity to share never offered itself on a plate.

Analysts have found that companies that manage to hold regular meetings are more frequently successful than those who don't.

In small companies and teams, everyone is so busy doing everything that the hardest thing to arrange is often a meeting. Something always seems to crop up or interrupt. Two aborted meetings and you're lost. The solution is to set in stone, on the highest authority, regular, group, or company-wide meetings, once a week. Always have it on the same day, always at the same time, always in the same place—then no one can say they didn't know the venue.

It must be clearly understood in advance that these internal meetings always take precedence over everything else, including urgent individual meetings, inquiries by the taxman, and crucial appointments with the client. You come first. The rest of the world comes second. Once people get used to internal meetings having priority, it is amazing how deftly they are able to schedule outside appointments around them, switch off their telephones, and let their faxes pile up.

Use the most powerful meeting chairmen in the firm to set the process off, even if that doesn't happen to be you. Regular meetings correct two common misunderstandings:

♦ Meetings waste valuable development time.

Firms that hold regular meetings say that just by pulling people together you build collaboration, reduce duplication, and iron out ambiguities that typically waste significantly more time than the combined time of those assembled. Meetings are an excellent opportunity to motivate and publicly acknowledge the contributions made by individuals.

Meetings certainly just drag and lose focus if you haven't had a meeting in ages and open without an agenda. Everyone wants to air everything they've been storing. They have no idea when there will be another opportunity. Regular, structured meetings mean short meetings.

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