Thursday, May 28, 2009
Meetings must focus on goals
By SUE WATSON
Members of the 2009 Leadership Marshall Class heard from Sheila Brooks with the Tennessee Valley Authority in May about how to make meetings work.
The module was first up on a day packed with information that included business development, managing conflict and Main Street development.
A specialist in economic development and strategic training and leadership education, Brooks is a graduate of 2004 Leadership Chattanooga.
The module was launched by asking class members about meetings recently attended. The purposes for the meetings varied.
When the goals of a meeting are not realized, it makes meetings difficult, said Brooks. Therefore, there are certain rules and guidelines for holding meetings.
Well-managed meetings involve the participants, communicate values, and help achieve goals. No agenda meetings get nothing done and usually end up in individuals airing their grievances, Brooks said.
She recommended for reading, “Masterful Meetings,” by Michael Wilkinson. The book lays out how to get work done before the meeting, which includes setting the time and place and agenda and getting the notices out to participants.
Nuts and bolts of a fruitful meeting include circulating a written agenda before the meeting. Stakeholders should be invited, plus persons important in planning the process and those expected to get the work done.
Ground rules are established at the first meeting and include – such as no side conversations, be on time, one person talks at a time, sharing the air time and sticking to the issues at hand.
Successful meetings include keeping written records that validate the meeting, the progress and provide for accountability.
A meeting facilitator’s role is to keep the meeting on topic and the agenda moving, supporting the ground rules, letting everyone speak, keeping track of the time, and reaching consensus.
Meetings that don’t go well usually lack a good plan, have no agenda, lack ground rules, and result in nothing getting accomplished, frustration, or conflicts between people. Mandatory meetings where people are not invested in the goals or who are not included in the discussion are usually not productive, especially if the stakeholders are not at the meeting.
“Sometimes it is best not to hold a meeting,” said Brooks.
Communication in writing or person-to-person may be all that is needed to get a problem solved, she said.
After these points, the leadership class worked on their community action projects.
One group is developing a project to help make Byhalia beautiful and the other group is working on a youth leadership project involving the schools.
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