• Meeting Manners – It’s All About Respect

    iStock_000014192930SmallIn a “previous life” I worked for two companies that each had a push for Quality.  Being in a position that was decidedly not manufacturing, and since I didn’t work in a factory, I was skeptical at first.  As I learned more about Quality (yes with a capital Q), I was impressed on how it could apply to all areas of the business.  One area that has stuck with me to this day is how they wove Quality into day-to-day meetings.  We were taught that each meeting needed a “PAL” which detailed the following:

    Purpose – why is the meeting being held & what is your part in it?

    Agenda – details of what will be discussed in the meeting & any advance preparation that is needed

    Limits – when does the meeting start and end

    Put together and distributed in advance, this document demonstrated respect for employees’ time & talents.  As part of the PAL, the following rules applied:

    • If there was no PAL provided (just a meeting notice), you were within your rights to decline attendance. If you did not know why your presence was being requested and what you could learn or how you could contribute, how could you accurately decide whether this was a good use of your time?
    • Meetings (whether in person or via conference call) should start on time – you would allow a 5 minute leeway but if it had not started by then, you had the right to leave. Similarly, the meeting should end on time.  The person running the meeting would have a timekeeper, and if the meeting could not be finished in the prescribed time allotted, then the group would decide whether to extend the meeting or table topics for a future time.

    Purpose, agenda, limits: it’s all about respect – respect for people’s time and their talents.

    The example above applied the PAL to an internal meeting, but it works for external meetings as well.

    Purpose – let attendees know what’s in it for them – you are competing for their time &/or money, make them want to attend!

    Agenda – let them know what to expect once they get there:

    • Do they have any prework they need to do?
    • Are they multiple sessions to choose from?
    • Are they expected to present anything?
    • Is there a specific dress code?
    • Do they need to bring books, laptops, props – or just show up?

    Limits – this encompasses many areas:

    • When does the meeting start and when will it end?
    • Are there breaks or downtime?
    • If they need to travel to the meeting when should they arrive & depart?
    • How close is the meeting location to transportation (airports/trains) or is it drivable (things to factor into the timing)

    Do you apply these principles to your meetings?

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