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Here is the second installment of the Boss’s Tip of the Week. This advice column for managers is brought to you by Bob Rosner and Allan Halcrow, co-authors of The Boss’s Survival Guide.
Imagine what would happen if operations in an air traffic control tower were like the average corporate meeting: People speaking over one another and interrupting, random outbursts that have nothing to do with the topic at hand, some participants texting while others sleep, no clear assignment of responsibility and no follow-up. Scary, isn’t it?
Most meetings are pretty scary, too: Black holes that absorb huge amounts of time and accomplish very little (if anything). But just because there aren’t jumbo jets full of passengers at stake doesn’t mean we can’t still run meetings with the efficiency of an air traffic control operation.
Start with a good reason to call a meeting in the first place. And no, an excuse to eat doughnuts is not one of them. But these are:
*Effective communication. When you need people to really understand something (a change in the company’s strategic direction, a new threat from your competition, a reorganization), a meeting ensures that everyone hears the same thing at the same time, and you can better judge the response.
*Shared expertise. Except in Congress, two heads (or more) are generally better than one. So when you face especially daunting challenges, getting people with different expertise and perspectives together to address the problem is a smart use of resources.
*Consensus. The search for consensus has been overdone: You do not need everyone to weigh in on what kind of paper to put in the copier. But you may need consensus on whether to launch a new product. If so, a meeting can be the most efficient way to get there.
*Productivity. When you hit a roadblock, you can let all work come to a halt to allow for a lot of finger-pointing and hand-wringing. Or you can bring people together to identify the problems and find solutions.
Whichever of these is your goal, know and communicate that to everyone involved. And do yourself (and everyone’s rear end) a favor and don’t try to accomplish all these things in the same meeting.
Real Life Example
Teresa Taylor, chief operating officer of Qwest, starts every meeting by asking, “Do we all know why we’re here?” Taylor told the New York Times that often people don’t know why they are there – they were invited and so they showed up. If there are eight people in the room, they may have eight ideas about why they have been included. Taylor also asks, “Are we making decisions? Are you going to ask me for something at the end?”
Once the group has decided what they’re doing she asks again if everyone needs to be present – and sometimes people excuse themselves. Taylor concedes the discussion can eat 10 minutes of time, but she says the investment is well worth it.
We’ll have more meeting tips in future columns.
Posted in Boss's Tip of the Week
Tagged Allan Halcrow, Bob Rosner, boss advice column, Boss's Tip of the Week, eboss watch blog, eBossWatch, how to get things done in meetings, manager advice column, meeting tips, meetings without wasting time, Teresa Taylor COO of Qwest, The Boss's Survival Guide
Trouble seems to be brewing for Kenneth Yowell, president of Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio, who has drawn criticism from a number of Edison professors.
Charles Quincy Essinger, a former adjunct professor filed a lawsuit against Yowell and the college for allegedly unlawfully firing him in retaliation for videotaping a board meeting in April 2009 in which the faculty held a no-confidence vote in Yowell. Essinger also accuses Yowell of writing an email in July that attacked his character and competence.
Stephen Marlowe, an Edison professor whose recent contract-violating layoff outraged faculty members, has been reinstated by the college after his union agreed to drop all of its formal grievances against Yowell and the college. Despite the victory, Marlowe and local union leaders continue to express their dissatisfaction with the leadership of Kenneth Yowell.
Marlowe and a number of other faculty leaders believe that he was laid off because of his recent public criticism of Yowell, both in his involvement with a no-confidence vote in Yowell and as the editor of the local union news blog.
In reacting to his reinstatement, Marlowe said, “We won the battle but not the war. My termination was the last in a series of really heavy handed missteps in leadership. My case was symbolic of what many people have suffered for the last 20 years of (Yowell’s) leadership. The only reasonable outcome of this situation is that (Yowell) retire.”
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Posted in bad bosses, hostile work environment, rate my boss, retaliation, Toxic Workplaces
Tagged bad boss, Charles Essinger accuses Kenneth Yowell of retaliation, Charles Quincy Essinger sues Edison College president Kenneth Yowell, criticism about leadership of Edison College president Kenneth Yowell, eboss watch blog, eBossWatch, Edison College professor Stephen Marlowe dissatisfied with president Kenneth Yowell, rate my boss, rate your boss, toxic boss