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Article by Shirley Fine Lee printed in

Sales and Service Excellence (The Magazine of Team Leadership)  - September 2008


Meeting Blunders article by Shirley Lee in Sales and Service Excellence

Article Text

Meeting Blunders

Try using the RARA approach.

By Shirley Fine Lee

            Meetings are supposed to help get things done - not hinder progress. When people have to attend meetings where participation is low or things get out of control causes objectives for holding the meeting are not met. To meet objectives, start by avoiding the seven common blunders:  

1. Members don't understand the importance of their role in generating ideas, solving problems, and making decisions. Every member must agree to meeting purpose and processes, then adhere to those during the meeting. All members must know they are part of the meeting to share knowledge and expertise with the team. Sharing comes in developing ideas and solutions or establishing criteria with a process for making decisions. Some individuals need help to see their role on team.

2.  Attendees don't demand a written agenda with timeframes. People feel that short meetings do not require a formal agenda. However, by  not having a proposed agenda, they get off-track and lose control. Having an agenda with important topics first and timeframes listed will help keep the meeting on-track and on-schedule.

3.    If they have an agenda, they allow random changes or rabbit trails. Meetings may start with an agenda, but it isn't adhered to. People come into the meeting and change the agenda by talking out of turn or changing the topic while discussing an agenda item. Although it may sometimes be necessary to change an agenda for an urgent item, this should be done at the start of the meeting and agreed to by all present. Use the written agenda to refocus the team to what they've agreed to do during the meeting timeframe.

4.  Participants don't use visible records of their progress during a meeting. To keep a meeting on-track make sure all idea generation, decision-making, and other discussions get recorded in a way that is visible to all during the meeting. Having a visible record using marker boards or flip charts often keeps members from repeating themselves to make sure they are heard. It also helps to bring members back into focus on the current topic if someone begins to stray away from the agreed upon subject.

5.  Attendees choose not to review distributed minutes for accuracy. Some meeting members understand the importance of taking meeting minutes to have a record of what went on during the meeting, but they do not make sure those minutes are distributed to attendees and others after the meeting has finished. Quickly distributing meeting records allows members of the team to correct mistakes they think were made in the records as well as serving as a reminder of decisions made or actions to complete.

6.  Members do not insure actions items are recorded during meetings. If meetings are bring held, but nothing seems to be getting done as a result, it's likely that no one is recording important action items coming out of these discussions. To remedy this, have a place where all actions are listed as they come up.

7. Participants don't commit to actions by volunteering with a completion date. Progress can be made if all the outside actions were recorded, if someone volunteers or is assigned to complete the action. It is also helpful to ensure the person doing the action knows when it must be done. A due date helps individuals plan their time.

            Avoid these seven blunders by using the R.A!R.A! Approach: Roles, Agenda, Records, and Actions are elements to successful meetings.  SSE

Shirley Fine Lee is the author of  "R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard's Approach".  Call 214-457-5736 or visit www.shirleyfinelee.com.

ACTION:  Hold effective mistakes.



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