At the end of a recent interview on corporate culture, I was asked how a leader can improve culture through their meetings. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to dig deeper into this topic, so here are some key points for effective meetings if you want to increase accountability, follow through and engagement and improve morale.
Know this: your meetings (or lack of meetings,) are a direct reflection of your culture, or “how we do things around here.”
Company meetings, department meetings, staff meetings, leadership meetings and even hallway meetings reflect your organizational culture.
NOTE: While this blog discusses culture for work related meetings, the concepts can be applied to families, neighborhood associations, places of worship, volunteer groups etc.
Don’t Do This
The meetings with the CEO of a company where I worked conveyed a lot about the culture there. Since my office was in the executive wing, I would frequently see top executives waiting outside his office for 30, 45 or even 60 minutes, sometimes longer, for a scheduled appointment. Sometimes there would be three to five highly paid people waiting for the meeting. When I was new to the company, I naively asked why they waited and didn’t ask his executive assistant if she would call them when he was ready for the meeting. They looked at me like I had 2 heads. It was understood that they were expected to wait until he was ready and not keep him waiting. The implication was that the CEO’s work and priorities were always more important than anyone else and people were reminded of that every time they had to wait to see him. If you wanted to be accepted in that culture, you were expected to wait patiently until the CEO was ready to see you.
Ironically, a key motto at this company was “Our employees are our greatest asset.” However, the culture implied otherwise.
We’ve all been in meetings that resulted in people saying: “That was a waste of time.”
So, let’s start with some basics.
What’s the purpose of the meeting?
- Do you want to communicate information?
- Do you want people to participate, collaborate, or provide input?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Do you have an agenda? And do attendees know in advance what the agenda is?
- Is a meeting even necessary?
Accountabilities and Follow Through
What are the expectations of attendees and do they know what those expectations are?
Are people clear about the action plans or next steps or follow up that’s needed before the next meeting?
What happens if those expectations aren’t met?
Etiquette and Protocol
- Do you start/end on time?
- Is it acceptable for people to answer emails, texts or take calls during meetings?
- Does your culture permit side conversations, late arrivals, no shows?
While these examples may seem mundane, the underlying value is respect. Does the behavior demonstrated in meetings show respect for people’s time, preparation and contribution/engagement?
What do your meetings say about your culture?
Marty Stanley is a Certified Speaking Professional and award winning executive coach. She works with leaders who want a competitive advantage by having a winning culture. She does this through coaching, training and facilitation. For more information:
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