The Strategist

Simple rules for a perfect organizational meeting

06/02/2017 - 14:49

Just like any sports game, any meeting should have a certain set of rules for its participants. Since each organization has its own culture, it is necessary to work out its own rules that would be consistent with the unique organizational environment. For example, some organizational cultures are going easy on those who use abusive words, and others – don’t.

Here are a few rules suitable for almost any organization:

The meeting must be started on time and finished on time.

No one should leave the audience before the meeting ends. Frequency of breaks should be determined in such a way that the participants can sit out the entire meeting without having to leave the premises until the meeting is over.

Telephone calls, e-mails and sms-messages are not permitted during the whole meeting. Breaks should be planned often enough so that participants can solve all their pressing issues during the break.

Neither secretaries nor anyone else should interrupt the meeting. All irrelevant issues should be resolved during breaks.

It is necessary to write down all questions discussed on the flipchart (or demonstrate them using a projector) so that everyone can see them and follow the discussion.

Smoking during the meeting is not allowed. 

If meetings are accompanied by coffee or snacks, then this should be organized outside the meeting place. During breaks, those present can take something to eat or coffee and come to the meeting back, but it is undesirable for the participants to interrupt the meeting by hiking with a cup of coffee. We repeat: nothing should be distracting.

All necessary preparations must be made before the meeting begins. For example, all handouts are given in advance, so that the participants have time to review it. Acquaintance with the material directly during the meeting should be banned, this will make it possible to use the time of the meeting with maximum benefit.

As we have already noted, each company has its own rules. However, their availability will greatly simplify interaction of employees at meetings.

It does not matter which rules your organization prefers to use, but there always be someone to violate them. People are late, their phones ringing in the middle of the meeting, or they start talking, ignoring the agenda. Therefore, it is important to consider introduction of a system of punishment.

A punishment should be symbolic rather than unpleasant. It can be, for example, one push-up or a penalty of one cent for interrupting a speaker or for every minute of delay. Set a limit of five push-ups or five cents so that the punishment would not be too cruel. If someone calls the phone or another significant violation of the rules occurs, maximum penalty may be applied. All the money collected by agreement is best given to charity.

Such simple things help to realize that we are breaking our own rules. It is important to note that when people are late, they usually have a serious reason for this. Perhaps they were not in the office, completing a significant deal for the company. At such meetings, the rule reads: "All explanations are accepted, but together with a fine only". We are all busy with important things, but we have to arrive on time. If you fail, well, it happens, but, please, admit that you violated the rules by paying a small and painless fine, and we all can move on.

based on ‘Empowering Meetings. A How-To Guide For Any Organization’ by Shoham Adizes and Nir Ben Lavi