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Conducting Meetings With Organizational Productivity

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As part of The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin put together a list of tips for running good meetings. But are these simple suggestions enough to positively influence workplace productivity?

Her fourteen points are not as grandiose as those of President Woodrow Wilson, but Rubin does make a strong argument:

Nothing can drain the happiness from you faster than a long, unproductive meeting. You’re bored; you’re not getting anything done; emails are piling up while you sit, trapped.

On the other hand, a productive meeting is exhilarating. A long time ago, when I was working in Washington, D.C., I remember a friend who worked at the Department of Justice saying, “Jamie Gorelick runs a meeting so well, it brings tears to my eyes.”

These comments support AccelaWork’s primary thesis: that productivity and satisfaction are connected. When a meeting drags on, attendees become frustrated and feel like they are achieving nothing. When a meeting is filled with rapid fire ideas and decisions, it’s an exciting place to be and you leave feeling energized and renewed. Let’s review Rubin’s suggestions:

  1. Start on time, and end on time.
  2. Spend a little time in chit-chat.
  3. If some people hesitate to jump in, find a way to draw them out.
  4. If you’re willing to take the blame, people will give you the responsibility.
  5. Share the credit.
  6. Making people feel stupid isn’t productive, and it isn’t kind.
  7. Have an agenda and stick to it.
  8. Never go to a meeting if you don’t know why you’re supposed to be there!
  9. Standing meetings should be kept as short as possible and very structured.
  10. Don’t say things that will undermine or antagonize other people.
  11. Be very specific about what the “action items” are.
  12. For long meetings, schedule breaks when people can check their email and phones.
  13. Meetings should stay tightly focused.
  14. Consider a radical solution: no chairs.
workers having organizational productivity

© Flickr user bade_md

Items #1, #7, #8, #9, #11, #13 and #14 are all suggestions for maximizing effectiveness. Tips #2, #3, #5, #10 and #12 all help people feel more comfortable. While all of these proposals are good ideas, none of them really tackle the fundamental question of why we meet. Understanding the best techniques for conducting meetings should derive from the purpose of the meetings themselves.

At AccelaWork, we advise that if a meeting is routine, it has one of two possible objectives: to make decisions or to brainstorm ideas. Whichever it is, less is definitely more. A short meeting in which the group comes to one consensus about one important choice will be more powerful than one in which a dozen minor nuances are debated and resolved. Likewise, generating ideas is more effective when the focus is on one topic. If meetings are a challenge for your organization, contact our Indianapolis consultants today!

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