The Harvard Business Review website included an article on 3/19/15 by Roger Schwarz, “How to Design an Agenda for an Effective Meeting”. This management note makes many good points. It can be improved by adding a much clearer task orientation to the outcomes.
The Critical Moment
Many people struggle with how to open a business conversation with a new person or prospects. Lets assume for the moment that you have solved that puzzle and are now actually engaged in a conversation, whether in person, on the phone or via email. Typically little thought is given to how to close a business conversation. Yet, this is a critical moment. Done with a little thought you set up the next conversation and deepen your business relationships with prospects and networking contacts. Before you say, “Thank you for taking so much time to speak with me.”(or whatever phrase you use to close a conversation), you must set up the next conversation with your prospects and networking contacts.
Time – a most valuable resource but always fleeting
In the previous posting in this series we closed with Drucker’s five essential practices for managers.
- know where their time goes.
- focus on outward contribution.
- build on strengths….
- concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.
- make effective decisions.
This posting focuses on the first of these, time.
Time is a central resource, yet unlike other resources it cannot be inventoried, purchased, or controlled in any way. It is always the scarcest resource. Thus the use of our time and the organization’s time is critical to achieving results.
Effectiveness Depends on Continuous, Uninterrupted Blocks of Time
“Time in large, continuous, and uninterrupted units is needed….”((1)) A manager who can only find brief moments for reflective thought is bound to think about only what is at hand, what they already know, and what they have already done.
Drucker argues that there is a three step process that is the foundation of effectiveness in managing time. First is recording the use of time, second is managing time,((2)) and third is the consolidation of discretionary time. These are the steps to coming to grips with how one’s time is being used now.
Reducing Time Wasters Continue readingFootnotes:
- all quotes are from Chapter Two – Know Thy Time in Drucker’s The Effective Executive [↩]
- the use of the word “managing” here refers to the setting of priorities and making choices about the use of time. There is no sense to thinking that time is managed in the way every other resource in the organization can be managed. [↩]
A recent New York Times article “Building a Better Teacher” by Elizabeth Green((1)) told the story of Doug Lemov’s discovery that a large component of high performing teachers’ success came from their classroom management skills. While reading the article, and, especially watching the videos of teachers actually employing good class management, I was struck by an interesting parallel in the management world. Just as education schools do not do a good job of preparing teachers to know what to do when they first walk into a classroom, most managers learn their craft by trial and error. They have little help from mentoring or development programs in their companies. And, business schools seem to provide little guidance either.
Meeting management is to effective managers as classroom management is to successful teachers
Meetings are a great place to start to learn the management craft and a crucial platform for driving and sustaining high performance. Great managers and great organizations have great meetings. And, from the perspective of a manager interested in developing a high performance culture, meetings are a great starting point in building a high performance company. After all, meetings exhibit all of the important attributes of high performance organization and culture. And, no effective manager can be ineffective in meetings.
- focus on results ($s, people and values)
- engage, empower and demand every participant’s energies
- use fact-based thinking
- orient to customer needs (internal and external)
- devolve strategy into tactics
- employ process and systems thinking
- use well-developed problem solving tools and approaches
- focus on adding value for customers (internal and external)
- look for waste reduction
- build on company and individual strengths
- among the more important……
Meetings are a great place to start because they are a regular event in which the manager has significant control and can demonstrate, concretely, high performance principles and practices in front of, and with their direct reports.
- March 2, 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html [↩]
Recently I was talking with two clients (partners in an engineering firm) about meetings. In particular were the meetings that one of their customers was calling on short notice with no formal purpose with a cast of thousands. We were puzzling through the various ways they could handle customers who think that it is alright to have meetings that take up lots of time and only really involve my clients occasionally for their input and expertise.
Feeling lonely today? Let’s call a meeting. Continue reading
A recent article in the New York Times business section, “You’re the Boss: the art of running a small business”, by Paul Downs, “The Comment That Changed My Business” spoke of this owner’s experience with holding weekly meetings with his employees. In the 24 year history of this company, they had never held regular employee meetings. Mr. Downs reported on how successful these now are for him.
His story reminded me of my own experiences with meetings. Here is one that is germane to Mr. Downs’ story.
I used Stand Up Meetings for staff. Continue reading