Meetings, meetings, meetings…

Here are some questions for you.

1. How much time do you waste in meetings? I thought so.
2. Do you actually have to have as many meetings as you do? Quite right, you don’t.
3. Do you get all the answers that you need at any of your meetings? Yes I know, it’s frustrating isn’t it?
4. Would you like to cut down on wasted time (yours and your colleagues) and have the right information shared to your team?

Excellent, I knew that would be the answer, please read on.

Managing meetings

Fed up with inefficient meetings? Research by Microsoft among 38,000 respondents in 200 countries showed we are in meetings on average for 5.6 hours a week and 70% of this time leads to no action at all. Many of my Facilities Management (FM) clients have spent many more hours than this in meetings. So it is no wonder that meetings drain our energy and are often seen as useless. By using a focused approach in meetings they can be more effective and less frustrating. This works by posing useful questions which help people to focus on what they want to get out of the meeting. As the manager, you help them to remember what they want to achieve and how this session can help them with that.

At the start of the meeting ask:

• What’s going well? What in general has been going well? (Ask everyone to respond individually).
• How will you know after the meeting has ended if it has been useful for you?
• What are your best hopes for this meeting?
• What do we want to achieve today?
• How will you know we have made some progress?
• What will be different?
• What small thing can you do to get as much as possible from this meeting?

During the meeting ask:

• Is/was this useful for you? If yes, how is it useful? If no, how could we make it more useful?
• How can we use the time we have left as effectively as possible?
• When we have tackled this kind of problem before, what was the most help?
• What skills and resources did we discover then?
• How are those things helpful?
• How could you build on and do more of what’s going well?
• What needs to happen for those things to continue?
• How motivated are you to continue those things? How hopeful are you that those things will continue?

After or at the end of the meeting ask:

• What has been most useful for you?
• How can you apply this?
• What small step will you take tomorrow?
• What is better? What else?

I don’t know! Some people say “I don’t know” quite often. It may be helpful for them if you answer, “How would things be different if you did know?” or “Suppose you did know, what would you say?”

Points to remember

Asking useful questions allows you to focus on someone’s strengths, capabilities, possibilities and enthusiasm. Be wary of bombarding them with endless questions – listen actively to their answers and ask the next question accordingly. Listening is key – act as if they are someone with so much unfulfilled potential that you just have to support them.

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