How much can you — one individual — possibly affect the culture of meetings in your organization? The answer is . . . a lot!
Vow to take ownership of every meeting you attend. No more showing up unprepared, day dreaming, or doing other work and leaving the meeting with no clear actions or solutions. Increase your ownership stake by changing your perceptions about your role and level of accountability. No longer is it someone else’s meeting or someone else’s problem. Your responsibility is to use every meeting to try to solve every problem.
You own every meeting you attend and every problem the company faces, whether or not it’s in your department or division.
You can have a positive impact by following the basic rules of effective New Reality meetings:
- Have an agenda and send it out ahead of time
- Come prepared
- Start on time
- Focus on the customer
- Contribute and insist on open dialog
- Democratize the problem-solving process
- Finish the discussion (even if someone disagrees)
- Replace consensus with commitment
- Extend trust
- Decide and assign actions
- End on time (or before)
- Follow through and follow up on actionable items
Make every meeting count by being an advocate for the customer, not just for your role, job, department, or division. Voice expectations and requirements of the customer. Champion customer interests and desires. Solve problems with the customer in mind. When you take ownership of all the problems, you begin to think enterprise wide, and as you persist in focusing on the customer, your credibility and influence increase. With more credibility and influence, your constant customer focus begins to transform every meeting you attend.
Improve meetings by increasing your engagement. Get off the phone, close the emails, disconnect from your to-do list, and participate. Share your ideas, contribute your creativity, ask questions, seek clarity, challenge assumptions, and invest your discretionary intellect. The more you engage, the more others will engage; the more others engage, the better the customer solutions.
Remember to assume positive intent. One contributing factor to dysfunctional meetings is an underlying lack of trust. Unless everyone shares the same objective—do what’s best for the customer—individuals tend to look out for their own team, resources, and agenda. Overcome the trust deficit by giving everyone there the benefit of the doubt, with a reminder that we’re all here for the same reason: to solve problems and create better outcomes for our customers.
Approach every meeting with the belief that learning is more important than knowing. Meetings are not your opportunity to demonstrate how much you know. In fact, meetings are most dysfunctional when people are all trying to show how much they individually know. Meetings are most effective when everyone in the room is open to learn by sharing dialog, intellect, innovation, and growth – for individuals and the company.
In summary, take charge of your meetings by:
- Owning each and every meeting you attend
- Following effective meeting ground rules for The New Reality
- Advocating for the customer
- Ramping up your engagement
- Assuming positive intent and extending trust
- Using meetings as an opportunity to learn.