Wednesday, July 31, 2019

12 Methods to Make Meetings More Meaningful

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP

Why do some meeting facilitators excel at leading and managing meetings while others fail to maintain control, keep emotions in line, and can't seem to enrich the experience so attendees are engaged and want to contribute?

If you struggle with this skill or know someone who does, don't sit back and wait for the next meeting you lead or attend to be one of the 49 percent of office meetings that are found to be a "waste of time" (source: USA Today). Moreover, according to an online schedule service named Doodle, their recently published 2019 State of Meetings Report found that pointless and/or poorly organized meetings will cost U.S. companies a whopping $399 billion in 2019! Both alarming and sad.

Let's consider some of the consequences for employees who suffer through poorly organized or facilitated meetings. According to the same report, respondents most often cited:

  • Poorly organized meetings mean I don't have enough time to do the rest of my work (44%).
  • Unclear actions lead to confusion (43%).
  • Bad organization results in a loss of focus on projects (38%).
  • Irrelevant attendees slow progress (31%).
  • Inefficient processes weaken customer/supplier relationships (26%). 

So before you reserve your next meeting space, take a few moments to consider why you need to gather this group together at this particular time, who should be invited and who needs to be present, what outcomes you expect as a result of the meeting, and what impact you hope to have. Additionally, apply these 12 methods, too, and watch your meetings become more productive, easier to manage, and more meaningful for all involved. 
  1. Communicate the agenda and the meeting purpose with the meeting invitation.
  2. Leave devices at the door (or at least put them on silence).
  3. Set meeting expectations, including the length of each agenda item and overall meeting length.
  4. Avoid recapping for late-comers.
  5. Explain how ideas will be captured.
  6. Listen more, talk less, and welcome all ideas--not just those from "louder" attendees and/or extroverts.
  7. Communicate the desired meeting outcome beforehand and at the start of the meeting to ensure attendees have clarity in the goal and come prepared to articulate their points.
  8. One person speaks at a time without interruption.
  9. Welcome respectful disagreement/conflict; don't allow disrespectful comments/tones.
  10. Set up the meeting room/environment and test all technology before the meeting starts.
  11. Jokes need to be appropriate or stopped.
  12. Identify who the note-taker will be and ensure s/he understands the facilitator's expectations (capture all ideas and avoid using symbols for words). 

Below is a comical illustration of the above points NOT being demonstrated well. Enjoy it and let yourself laugh a little. After all, according to, laughter is good for the bottom line---with 81 percent of the 100 Best Companies to Work For saying, "We work in a fun environment."

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Secret to Motivating Other People

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP

I’m often asked this question: Can you motivate someone else? The short answer is...absolutely not! No matter how hard you want it, no one can motivate someone else to do what they don't want to do. You may get someone to do a task by enticing him/her with a sweeter carrot or threatening that person with a sharper stick. But that is not representative of personal motivation.

With the above said, you can influence other people to do a particular task and amazingly, this strategy works both professionally and personally. If you can tap into the underlying desires people have, you will get amazing performance from them. And if you’re a leader, the trick is to find alignment between what your people want and what will help grow the organization. Here is a three-step process to positively influence motivation:

STEP ONE: Ask the individual what s/he wants.
The first step in finding what motivates others is to make time to listen to them and find out what they actually want out of their job. The key is to not make assumptions about what you think they want; rather, you need to actually ask them what they want. Maybe they desire:
  • A new big title.
  • More time off to spend with their family.
  • To make more money to buy a new truck or send a son/daughter to college. 

STEP TWO: Show people how they can get what they want.
If someone wants to become a supervisor one day, offer ideas of things s/he can do to help make that happen.

STEP THREE: Allow others to get what they want while also benefitting the organization.
When my oldest son was 11, I remember him wanting to buy a motorized dirt bike for $400. I even told him I would pay for half of it. While he thought that was generous, he didn't have any other money for the purchase. So I gave Taylor a list of extra chores he could do around the house—like cleaning out the garage and raking leaves so he could earn some money.

He became a dynamo of energy as he tackled chores he otherwise loathed doing. The difference was he was doing them to get what he wanted. Meanwhile, I also got work done in a way that freed me up to do other things, namely landscaping which I love to do. That's what made the whole thing a true win-win. I found alignment between his personal goal and my desired outcomes.

So you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? How does motivation directly affect the workplace?” Well, motivated employees tend to produce happier customers, positively affecting the bottom line. In fact, workplace cultures with the highest total motivation scores also have received the highest customer satisfaction ratings. To learn more, watch this short video clip published by Harvard Business Review.

So even though the secret to motivating other people is that you can’t do it, you can dramatically influence others when it matters most.