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Saving Your Next Meeting From Its 2 Most Common Killers

Before Covid-19 happened, you probably already had enough meetings. Now, you probably have even more. Today, it’s never been easier for people to find themselves in a meeting, wondering, “why?”

Priya Parker is the author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet And Why It Matters and is a professional meeting maker. She helps organizations, communities and simply people, learn the art of meeting— gathering for a purpose. In her book, Parker suggests 2 fundamental reasons why any and every meeting makes you ask “why?”: multitasking and modesty.

The Killers: Multitasking and Modesty
1. Multitasking

Have you ever left a meeting and thought, “why was I invited to this meeting?” or even better, “why did this meeting happen at all?” Maybe whoever invited you wanted for you to feel “part of the team,” unknowingly, making you feel even less— just another rectangle in the gallery of faces.

If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose of your meeting was at the end, you are not alone. Parker in her book argues that multi-tasking and consequently a lack of purpose and focus, is one of the number one killers of effective meetings. In people’s attempts to get as much done, check off as many boxes as possible, be as efficient as possible, the opposite happens.

As the old sayings goes, “with no vision, the people will perish.” and “if everything is important, than nothing is important.” What then is required of every meeting is a clear purpose. Just as many projects have SMART goals, so should a meeting.

2. Modesty

The other conspirator of the murder of meetings alongside multitasking says Parker, is modesty.

Modesty, is the holding back of one’s personal responsibility and power to lead the meeting. Parker uses the example of a dinner party where a bunch of people are invited by a person to their home to connect. If the host simply allows the conversation to flow where ever it may go, it may and most likely will go nowhere. What is needed in these situations and many others Parker suggests, is a host or leader who can warmly navigate the flow towards the desired outcome.

Meetings exist however because there is an inherent recognition that things don’t just happen on their own. Businesses and organizations do not grow simply because people have a job or get paid.

What then is required for every effective meeting is a leader who takes responsibility that the reason for their meeting is achieved.

The Solution: Reason and Responsibility
Although there are good intentions behind hosting a meeting for multiple purposes and giving lots of space for group move on its own, it ultimately does a disservice. The most valuable limited resource everyone has is time. And when people are invited or forced into a meeting which feels afterwards pointless and progressless, you lose trust. You make your people question your intelligence and care, and very subtly diminish their drive and the quality of their work.

By now, everyone knows fear doesn’t work in motivating or moving people towards a common goal for very long. So here are 2 things every host needs to do:
1. Give a clear reason
Hosts needs to make sure their invitees know why they’re going. What the purpose of the meeting is and their purpose within it. What determines whether the meeting was success and more importantly, what will determine whether they were successful in it?

Do not try to accomplish a million things in your meeting and learn to focus it. If you have to, try having multiple meetings in a day spread out, each with a specific desired outcome.
2. Take a large responsibility

Next, the host must take responsibility for their meeting. They need to recognize that as the host, they are in a position of power whether they want to be or not. They, more than anyone, need to know the reason for the meeting, the reason why each individual is present, and take full responsibility in helping the team and each individual in getting there.

If you are the host, enter the meeting as if it really mattered. If you can’t, then maybe this meeting is better left to an email thread.

If you don’t think the goal of the meeting can be accomplished in the given amount of time, then maybe you actually might need more meetings.

Leading upward
Unfortunately, there is the chance that you have no formal power and lead no meetings on your own. Instead then, ask your supervisor what would make them really happy at your next meeting and how you could help them accomplish it. Your supervisor will appreciate your intention and your initiative more. You might also dread your next meeting a bit less.
The Saviors: Purpose and Progress

Although there are multiple ways to define what it means to be human, there are two which are particularly relevant for this topic: the desire for purpose and progress.

People are the only creatures that ask “why.” They are the only creatures that need an answer for the meaning and purpose of life.

We are also the only creatures that believe things should better. That life is about going somewhere.

It isn’t surprising then that people need their meetings to have the same essential ingredients as their lives: purpose and progress. How can we provide this? By giving a clear reason for our meetings and taking a large responsibility for them.

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Pulse: The right formula for a strong team in 2020

From reliable interaction, strong management and a plainly specified vision, readers chime in on what produces a strong, efficient and efficient group in 2020.

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Receiving Leadership By Example in the COVID-19 Era – 4 Lessons Learned

During this unprecedented time, I have learned a few key lessons not just as a working professional but as a father of a child with special needs and the husband of an essential worker. Essentially, who you work for matters in times of crisis, and how you are managed can either exacerbate the situation or help keep you together and lift your spirits. I am fortunate enough to have experienced the latter.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

When March came in like a lion, COVID-19 followed suit and changed everything. My son is now five years old. He has microcephaly, cerebral palsy, is legally blind, and does not walk or talk. At the same time, he is also the happiest kid who can light up any room with his smile. He loves to clap along with music and he is our biggest blessing and our greatest inspiration.

Because of his special needs, my son attends a special needs school, where he normally receives 1 to 1 classroom supervision in addition to all different kinds of therapies multiple times per week – occupational, physical, speech, and vision therapy. Needless to say, when schools were closed, we weren’t just losing out on his education, but we were also taking a huge step back in these extra services provided to him that we count on for his slow but steady progress.

Meanwhile, my wife works as an essential worker in the psychiatric unit of a hospital here in Long Island, which was a hot spot for COVID-19 when the pandemic first hit. Like all essential workers during this time, she has stepped up and done her job without missing a beat. She also happens to be one of the most positive and optimistic people on the planet, and the way she lifts everyone’s spirits makes her exceptional at what she does.

Now, this is where the leadership I have received from my company Minuteman Press International comes into play. As soon as the orders came down to work from home, I was one of the first people to be set up with a virtual desktop so I could do my job and also take care of my family. Knowing my situation and showing true empathy towards me simply meant and still means the world to me.

The rest of my coworkers quickly followed suit, and within one or two days everyone was set up to work from home. Following this Herculean effort by our IT Team, we all went to work and we’ve been very productive as a team. We set up virtual training programs, rolled out new marketing programs including Bounce Back USA, a free COVID-19 resource to support local businesses, and have had frequent communications with each other.

Reflecting on this time, here are four lessons I’ve learned and how receiving the right leadership has helped:

1. Empathy means everything… and leads to increased productivity. Because of how quickly I was set up at home and with my company supporting me, I was able to worry less and work more. I am home and here for my son when needed, but I am also working hard and completing all of my projects and tasks.

2. Having the right leadership in uncertain times bolsters team spirit and togetherness. I already knew I worked for a great company but weathering the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced how lucky I am to have leadership that cultivates relationships and sees us all as human beings first.

3. Because of my company’s flexibility, I have learned even more about my son and the progress that he has made at school and therapy sessions. Working from home has taught me so much about my son. On a normal day before COVID-19, I would have some time with him in the morning and by the time I came home from work I would feed him dinner and get him ready for bed. Now, I am able to see how he handles different parts of his day and even though he can’t talk, he does express himself. I have been able to see him when he is most alert and awake, and not just when he’s waking up or getting tired. It is nice to see all the different sides to his personality and I feel even more inspired by his progress.

4. The future of COVID-19 and its lasting effects may be unknown at this time but as a team we will emerge stronger than ever because of mutual loyalty and respect. I joined the team of Minuteman Press International five years ago. I could never have imagined that a global pandemic would occur, and at that point in time I had no idea what my son’s future held as he was just six months old. What I know now is that while he has a long road ahead, my wife and I will be able to navigate it together thanks in no small part to my company’s leadership team.

Ultimately, career satisfaction is not just about what you do and how you manage, but who you work for and how you are managed. Times of crisis can be challenging, but they can also serve as great reminders as to what truly matters.

In my case, it’s all about being treated like family so I can tend to mine.

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