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The Importance of Well-Organized Meetings

Some studies have found that the average employee spends approximately 30% of his or her working time in meetings. Because so much time is spent in meetings, it is critical to ensure they are well-organized, planned, and beneficial to the participants. The primary importance of a well-organized meeting is cost efficiency. The less time spent in meetings, the more productive and revenue-generating employees can be. Therefore, when meetings are thoroughly planned and organized, employees dont have to waste time. A well-organized meeting also has a tremendous influence on the success of a team. In addition to the information sharing purpose, a team meeting also strengthens interpersonal bonds, improves communication and teamwork, increases team morale and satisfaction, and boosts productivity. All of these meeting byproducts enhance team effectiveness and success.

Reviewing 6 Habits of Highly Effective Teams

Many define successful teams according to specific leadership styles, member skill sets, task definition, and complementary traits. In the book Six Habits of Highly Effective Teams, Kohn and OConnell provide a unique perspective that is centered on developing and maintaining positive relationships. There are many theories about what makes teams thrive those that address leaders, members, tasks, and personality traits. However, Stephen Kohn and Vincent OConnell provide a unique way of exploring team performance in their book Six Habits of Highly Effective Teams. They believe that the core component of successful teams is positive relationships among team members, between individual members and the team, and between the team and external groups.

Six Habits of Effective Teams

These six habits form an interlocking pyramid of integrated habits: the foundation consists of developing caring skills; the mid-level focuses on process-oriented habits; and the capstone habit addresses trust and roles.

Habit 1: Strengthen Emotional Capacity The foundation of team effectiveness focuses on exploring, understanding, and developing emotional awareness within individual team members and then transferring that awareness to the overall emotional intelligence of the team, thus making team members more receptive to client needs and improving member-client relations.

Habit 2: Expand Team Self-Awareness Kohn and O'Connell insist that a team's identity is driven less by its name than by its mission, values, strengths, and client perceptions. Therefore, to increase overall effectiveness, members must know where they fit in the team's structure, and the team needs to identify its purpose in a mission, vision, and values statement. Habit 3: Practice Empathy and Respectfulness Gaining a better understanding of customers concerns, dilemmas, and desires allows team members to relate to customers and provide better service and products. Members also need to practice empathy and respectfulness toward fellow team members to facilitate interdependence. Habit 4: Establish and Regulate Team Norms It is very important for team members to abide by team and company values, norms, and policies. Establishing and maintaining healthy group norms positively influences a team's functional capabilities, which greatly impacts productivity. Additionally, all team members, regardless of position, status, or tenure, must be subjected to the same expectations. Habit 5: Think Laterally Kohn and O'Connell (2007, p. 163) state that Clientsseek a team that can assess a problem, break new ground, and create a competitive edge." Therefore, in order for teams to adequately address client needs and surpass expectations, leaders must encourage out-of-the-box thinking without criticism or reprimand. Habit 6: Entrust Team Members with Appropriate Roles To enhance team interdependence, members must be aware of individual responsibilities and roles. Furthermore, in order for team members to feel comfortable delegating tasks, they must trust one another, which only exist through honesty, mutual accountability, and hard work.

Exercises to Develop Habits of Effective Teams

Strengthen Emotional Capacity

Devote time to help members identify and understand emotional capacity through role-playing and reenactment. Discuss the benefits of including an emotional or relational aspect in team activities and brainstorm ways to incorporate emotional awareness in daily tasks.

Expand Team Self-Awareness

Develop a shared mission that identifies common goals, values, and expectations.

Choose a team name that embodies the shared mission and serves as a constant reminder of the team's goals and values.

Practice Empathy and Respectfulness

Provide opportunities for members to rotate among jobs, cross-train, and shadow other team members to promote respect and understanding for other roles and responsibilities. Instill an understanding that everyone is important and not one person is the backbone of the team.

Establish and Regulate Team Norms

Revise the employee handbook to identify overall company goals, values, and purpose. Review the guidelines enforced by management and create team-specific rules for proper behavior, expectations, attitudes, and language to ensure consistency.

Think Laterally

Implement programs that encourage healthy competition among team members to generate new ideas and develop out-of-the-box solutions. Devote time to brainstorm ways that teams can be more innovative and creative in services, products, and processes.

Entrust Team Members with Appropriate Roles

Revise job descriptions to ensure alignment with team goals and company policies and articulate team member responsibilities clearly and concisely. Devote time to trust-building activities that showcase individual accomplishments toward a common goal.

A well-organized meeting also effectively allows management to address any pressing issues succinctly, informatively, and objectively. This presentation method provides participants the opportunity to form their own opinions regarding the information and comment when and where necessary. Furthermore, attendees are generally more receptive to information presented in wellorganized meetings because they appreciate the time and effort put into the planning process.

Characteristics of Well-Organized Meetings New Section Title

Most presenters claim that their meetings are organized and well-planned, regardless of the actual effectiveness, because stating the contrary would be self-defeating. To help presenters guarantee all prepared meetings are effective and successful, the following list identifies the most common characteristics of well-organized meetings.

A meeting agenda is prepared ahead of time and distributed to attendees for preparation and recommendation of additional topics. A third-party employee is designated as the note-taker to record attendees, agenda progress, key decisions, future meetings, and action items. The meeting begins on time. Late attendees are not permitted entry to avoid interruption and confusion due to missing critical introductory information necessary to effectively contribute to the discussion. The presenter sets the ground rules, which include: meeting start and finish times, designation of how much time will be spent on each topic, detailing how each member is expected to contribute, and identify how conflict will be resolved. The attendees are required to be professional in attire, discussion, and non-verbal communication. The organizer and participants are respectful of everyones time when making comments and proposing courses of action. Participants are expected to be attentive and involved, which may warrant cell-phone and laptop bans during the meeting. The presenter reiterates important concepts to reinforce attention, involvement, and retention of information. The presenter limits discussion to only those items on the agenda and closely monitors the allotted time for each topic. The presenter asks for diverse points of view and opinions, which helps avoid groupthink during decision-making discussions. The presenter ends the meeting on time.

Ways to Improve Meeting Effectiveness

Since not every meeting can be 100% organized, planned, and executed, there is always room for improvement in meeting preparations. There are two ways a meeting organizer can improve the effectiveness of a meeting ensure attendees stay on topic and maintain the attention of all attendees. Stay on Topic For a meeting to be effective and efficient, it is critical to ensure all participants stay on topic. This can be accomplished in at least three ways. First, the presenter can ensure the discussion does not stray from the agenda items and adheres to the allotted timeframe. Second, the presenter can frequently remind the attendees of the meeting objectives, progress, and items yet to be addressed. Third, the meeting organizer can reiterate critical discussion points and relate them back to agenda items when necessary. Maintain Attention In order for attendees to benefit from the meeting, all participants must be actively involved and attentive throughout the entire meeting. Regardless of team size, this can primarily be accomplished by allowing the participants to lead the meeting through the agenda items and discussion, while the meeting organizer simply guides them through the process. Second, the presenter can acknowledge and reinforce positive behaviors to

encourage additional repetition and involvement. Finally, a 10-minute break should be provided each hour to allow attendees to get situated, handle other business, and regroup their thoughts.

How to Develop a Meeting Agenda

A well-organized agenda is the backbone to a successful and efficient meeting. An agenda guides participants through the meeting by providing structure, purpose, and a sense of direction. All meeting agendas should include the following items:

Meeting name and date Meeting objectives and purpose Meeting organizer Meeting participants/attendees (if fewer than 10 attendees) Meeting location Meeting start and end times Meeting prerequisites (supplies, materials, and research/background information) Topic heading, subtopics, details, and allotted time