Shari Storm: I listened to my husband as he talked through the night's agenda with our four- and two-year-old. They share a room and going to sleep is one of their least favorite activities.
"Two books, one song, and lights out," he reminded them.
I wonder how many times he has said that phrase in the past two years. Parents know that in order to get the family to do most things, you have to spell out expectations every step of the way. We remind our kids every night: two books, one song, and lights out.
My mind wandered back to a meeting I had last week at the office. My coworker had sent a request for a one-hour meeting. Now, I work in the most meeting-oriented company I have ever known. We love us our meetings. And to us, meetings = one hour. No matter how little or how much we have to decide, we schedule meetings for one hour.
This particular meeting should have taken 20 minutes. But since the meeting request was for one hour, everyone came to the meeting with expectations that we were there for an hour.
It started off slow. It meandered. It went off topic. It took a long time to wrap up. The expectation had been set for an hour and the expectation was met.
Here is my advice for managers:
Learn how to run a good meeting.
All things in business start with a meeting.
All meetings should start with expectations.
I schedule a meeting for the shortest amount of time I want the meeting to take. Set expectations early to be focused.
I start all meetings on time. Set expectations that everyone is prompt.
I give an overview of the objectives before conversations begin. Set expectations for discussion.
When wrapping up, I remind everyone of their action steps and deadlines. Set expectations for execution.
Meetings might be the most misunderstood, most abused institution in the business world. Learn how to run a good meeting. It will teach you the discipline necessary for running the rest of your business.
|Shari Storm is the author of "Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss" (Thomas Dunne / St. Martins Press). Storm earned her Masters of Business Administration from Seattle University. In addition to being an executive at a $400 million financial institution, Storm is a mentor for Seattle University's graduate program and writes for Working Mother Magazine blog. Storm has three young daughters.|