A reader asks for advice:
Q: Mr. Corbell, my Northwest company is in two cities. I am having trouble with employee meetings. I’m feeling like a milquetoast. Some of my employees complain about having to attend and they don’t see my vision for the company. How can I best manage my meetings?
A: Indeed workers often complain about company meetings. I’m not a betting person, but my sense is that your company is missing opportunities for growth. About half of a company’s performance is driven by employee morale. Morale is aided by good communication. So, good communication via meetings will help.
However, before your next meeting: If some of your employees aren’t effective and they don’t get your vision, it sounds as though you need some one-on-one discussions. Getting employees on your page will hinge on talking with them individually, beforehand.
Many managers make the mistake of thinking they can whip up enthusiasm by holding meetings. That’s not always true. Employee motivation is a big job and it must be primarily addressed privately in an ongoing manner.
Once that’s accomplished, yes, a key is communication with employees in relevant meetings.
As a business-performance consultant, I don’t necessarily have to look at firms’ books to see if they’re profitable. Usually, all is required is to watch the interactions of people before, during and after staff meetings. The body language, level of politeness, enthusiasm and the degree of employee participation in staff meetings often illustrate how profitable companies are.
That’s important because highly motivated employees will drive brand equity. Employees with healthy self-esteem and morale will be collaborative. They’ll deliver strong performances and will be more enthusiastic with your customers.
While regular staff meetings are imperative and depending on the size of your company, consider all alternatives, such as conference calls, videoconferencing and e-mails.
Evaluate your communication during meetings. Do you vary your pitch, volume and rhythm? Do you use engaging facial expressions and eye movement? When an employee-participant is talking, do you look at the others so that the speaker will do the same?
Meetings are a golden opportunity to listen to employees to review and analyze their accomplishments, problems and solutions. The most interesting meetings are usually chaired by a personable boss and have participation from everyone.
Effective meetings feature binding decisions and consensus of action. A meeting will be far more productive if matters are resolved and deadlines are set for action and if it’s determined who will take the action.
Seven keys for best use of your human capital:
1. In advance, prepare and circulate an agenda with appropriate background information.
2. Stay focused on the main topics.
3. Be in control of the meeting.
4. Discuss the salient issues.
5. Ensure everyone participates in contributing ideas and information.
6. As for planning action following the meeting, determine who will do what and when.
7. Be as brief as possible and set time limits for discussion of each agenda item.
Once the meeting starts, your responsibility is to keep a tight rein on the discussion. The chairperson always determines who will talk, when they’ll talk and how long they’ll talk.
Stay on schedule and keep the group focused.
Don’t let dominant personalities run the meeting. If participants are having their own private meetings or are passing notes, stop the disruptions by asking employees if they have something important to share.
Summarize the points at the right intervals.
Use visual aids, such as a flip pad, whiteboard or slides. But keep them simple.
Make certain everyone is mindful that you want to expedite the discussion as much as possible without rushing too fast. A good meeting starts on time and ends on time. If people are late, don’t wait for them to start the meeting.
Unless you need a lot of feedback or if you simply want to update your employees on relatively minor matters, do it in an e-mail instead of scheduling a meeting.
Don’t expect to improve employee morale by using a staff meeting to reprimand workers. That calls for a one-on-one meeting.
If you have numerous topics on the agenda, use an odd number for each of the time limits. For example, set a time limit of 25 minutes instead of a half hour. Employees will see that you’re serious about productive meetings.
If you have strong personalities in the room, take charge, and let them know you intend to be timely and relevant. Set a tone for productivity. Write your meeting topic-goal on the whiteboard.
Reschedule the meeting if participants are unprepared and haven’t done their homework. Make certain to follow up with them privately.
On the contrary, you want passionate participation. You don’t want employees to feel intimidated to say what they feel. Motivate shy employees to talk. Try to keep track of all ideas, even if they’re dumb. Then invite others to add to the discussion. You want every person to feel like they’re being heard.
Look for opportunities for fun, such as mentioning birthdays or employee anniversaries.
Be mindful of opportunities to reiterate company values or goals. Develop a system to keep track on assigned tasks. Make certain that each employee knows the next step before adjourning.
Such measures will improve your meetings and your company’s communication.
From the Coach’s Corner, to improve productivity and reduce losses, here’s a reason to work on internal communications: Good communication with non-exempt workers on your company’s firing lines can help identify risks from political environments to customer satisfaction.
“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”
Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.