Meetings meetings meetings…
In a recent major Effectiveness Review of a Governing Body we conducted a thorough desk research of documentation such as minutes and policy documentation. This was followed by one-to-one interviews with governors, former governors, senior staff and clients. By the end of the exercise, we had a pretty accurate picture of what is happening both very positive and where and how to address weaker areas.
Effectiveness reviews create an opportunity to research in more detail about things I encounter anecdotally in my work with groups. Here’s the list of things that could drastically save time and lift morale among teams and boards:
Agree a meetings protocol. This might include:
- Always have a timed agenda
- Guillotine the overall time of the meetings and keep to it
- Agree to avoid circular conversations – Have we been here before? Make a decision or delegate authority
- No-one has the right to ‘hold forth’ in a meeting. Challenge this behaviour.
- Everyone be aware of unconscious bias. A good Chair helps the group to actively listen afresh. Passive listening wastes time.
- Change the energy through a few quick items in the middle of a meeting and a quick break half-way through. For more straight-forward discussion based agendas, walk around the building/organisation/site. This helps with dynamism of meetings and profile, especially if strategic staff involved.
In sending out meeting documentation give thought to:
- What is the purpose of the information?
- Is there too much information/data/jargon?
- For the Board, is this information for governance or management? Strategic or OperationaL? Is it well written?
- Does the information get sent out in time?
- What input should the Chair have?
- Setting a time each year to evaluate the format and style of meeting papers
So much of the working week can be taken up in meetings. Surely it is good to take a step back and consider both the efficiency and effectiveness of time spent together to the benefit of your organisation?