Managing Meeting Behaviour Starts With The Chairperson

Workplace meeting huddle.

Managing meeting behaviour starts with the chairperson but is really the responsibility of everyone attending. This is true whether the meeting is a monthly board meeting or a daily 10-minute huddle in the work place.

Unproductive meetings result in hundreds of hours of lost time, incomplete actions, repeat work and disengaged staff. If this resonates with you, perhaps you should consider what this is costing in lost time and revenue and look at ways to ensure the meetings in your business are purposeful and productive.

So how do you as chairperson manage meeting behaviour?

As a role model, the chairperson’s thoughts and actions will influence how everyone else responds. Their words and actions set the tone and determine how the meeting proceeds and concludes. So being aware of their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours is a good place for a chairperson to start. Read more; 4 Simple Steps to Facilitate Behaviour Change

Be clear about purpose and expectations

If you aren’t clear about the purpose and expected outcomes for your meeting, no one else will be. It is worth taking extra time to ensure everyone attending the meeting is on the same page and understands why they are there.

Agree with the meeting participants what behaviours are acceptable and what are not. Discuss specific behaviours such as interrupting, taking calls or arriving late, and link them to feelings and values for better understanding. Agreeing the meeting behaviour or ‘rules’ with everyone at the beginning and framing them positively encourages accountability.

Encourage everyone to participate

Too many meetings are dominated by too few people. Besides being grossly unfair, this is a sad loss of ideas, contribution and a horrendous waste of time. Spectators generally don’t add value, so encourage participation by giving everyone equal opportunity to speak. Recognising and appreciating people’s contribution promotes further involvement.

Ask good questions

Be curious and ask open questions such as “what happened..? ”how do you think..?” or “where should we..?”. Resist the temptation to quickly provide the answers, it discourages thinking and involvement from others. Asking good questions increases understanding, provides better solutions and encourages individual and group responsibility.

Listen, listen and listen more

If you are not listening, people will stop talking. Giving someone your full attention demonstrates respect and encourages them to go deeper with their thinking. And when everyone is listening attentively, fresh thoughts arise and better outcomes are decided. Listening is a skill that requires practice and your team members will make the effort to listen if you do.

Finish with clear action

Too often meeting time is wasted because no outcome is agreed. To avoid having to repeat meetings, make sure everyone is absolutely clear about what actions need to happen, who is responsible for what and by when they need to be done. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about the intended outcome of the meeting and what to expect next.

The quality and outcome of a meeting is influenced by the behaviours and attitudes of all the people attending. The chairperson plays a crucial role in ensuring everyone is clear about the purpose of meeting and is willing and able to contribute to achieving a productive outcome. With mindful awareness of their own thinking and actions, it is possible for the chairperson to create an environment where everyone takes responsibility for ensuring the meeting succeeds its purpose and adds value for all.

Jenny Johnson