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The East African : February 3rd 2014
42 The EastAfrican BUSINESS FEBRUARY 1-7,2014 MANAG E R is your job to make sure people do not go off on tangents or give endless speeches. But how can you keep people focused without being a taskmaster or squashing creativity? Impe≥atives fo≥ keeping meetings on t≥ack T here is nothing more annoying than a meeting that goes on and on and on. As a manager, it The good news is that meet- ing management is not rocket science; you probably know what you should be doing. The bad news is that keeping your meeting on track takes discipline, and few people make the effort to get it right. “The fact is people haven’t thought about how to run a good meeting, or they’ve never been trained, or they’re simply too busy,” says Bob Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and author of Extreme Productivity. “Organisations are moving faster these days and few managers have time to think through their meetings in advance,” says Roger Schwarz, an organisational psychologist and author of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams. Here is how to make your next meeting your most productive one yet. Control the size Meetings can get out of con- trol if there are too many people in the room. “Chances are they won’t be attentive or take responsibility for what’s happening,” says Pozen. But with too few people, you may not have enough diversity of opinion. Only include those who are critical to the meeting. “Don’t feel you have to in- vite everyone who ever thought about the problem,” he says. “If you think someone may be offended, you can send out a memo and loop back with them afterward so they know what’s happening.” Set the right tone Ensure that people feel com- COMMENTARY AMY GALLO “Don’t feel obliged to invite lots of people; only include those critical to making progress.” A meeting at the workplace. As a manager, it is your job to make sure people keep focused. Picture: FILE Make the purpose clear You can head off problems by stating the reason for getting together right up front. Schwarz recalls seeing a sign in a conference room at Intel’s headquarters that read: “If you don’t know the purpose of your meeting, you are prohibited from starting.” Schwarz suggests that you list agenda items as a question — rather than “Discuss video schedule,” write “When will videos be completed?” to show what outcome you have in mind. Next to each item, indicate participants’ roles — are they sharing information, contributing ideas or making a decision? fortable enough to contribute. “You’re there to be a steward of all the ideas in the room,” says Schwarz. Set the right tone by model- ling a learning mindset. Instead of using the time to bring people around to your viewpoint, be open to hearing others’ perspectives. Explain that you do not have all the answers, nor does anyone else in the room. Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review.
January 27th 2014
February 10th 2014