09 Feb So many business meetings, so little time
Editor’s note: Contemporary Working, WTN’s newest column, is actually a blog on the Manpower Web site, and it’s designed to guide readers on their journey through the changing world of work. Readers will find tips, tools, and information on topics as diverse as the aging workforce, working women, professional etiquette, generational diversity, the talent crunch, and more.
How much time do you spend in meetings every day? If you’re like most of us, it’s a big percentage of your time at work. Is all that time worth your while?
Here are some tips for the person calling the meeting — to make meeting-time more meaningful:
• Only invite the people who really need to be there. You probably don’t need a cast of thousands — especially when many are not even sure why they are there.
• Clearly state the purpose of the meeting in your invitation.
• Prepare a detailed agenda — with time-boxed subjects, expected outcomes, and the responsible party for each item.
• At the start of the meeting, repeat your objectives then be specific and explicit about what you hope to accomplish.
• Either appoint a facilitator to keep you on track, or be very disciplined — stick to the subject, keep to your time table and don’t waste time.
• Take notes so you can follow up with outcomes as well as any action items that need attention.
• End the meeting on time or, better yet, a few minutes early. Shorter is definitely better than longer!
Like email, I don’t think we can avoid meetings. But if they are efficient and well-run, they can be time well spent.
We’ve talked about how meetings would be better if the people calling them did a few simple things. Well, the “caller” isn’t the only one with responsibility for a good meeting. If you’re a “callee:”
• Show up on time.
• Come back from breaks promptly.
• Turn off your cell phone — even a vibrating blackberry can be very distracting.
• Do your homework — if there is pre-reading, have it completed.
• Come armed with questions.
• If you want to criticize an idea or what is being discussed, make it constructive criticism.
• Be respectful and honest.
• And don’t take anything personally — this is business.
• Finally — and this is one of my pet peeves — avoid those sidebar conversations. They are rude and disruptive. If you have something to say, say it to the whole meeting.
Like them or not, meetings are a fact of life. If we all were a bit more thoughtful about our behavior in meetings, the time would be better spent.
What not to say
I enjoyed a recent article on CareerBuilder.com that listed the worst things to say at work. While I totally agree with everything listed — particularly “that’s not my job” — I have a few of my own to add:
• I forgot.
• Let me get back to you on that (and then you don’t).
• Did you hear about … (gossip)?
• I overslept.
• I was at lunch.
• My dog ate it. (Not my Hannah!)
Do you have any to add?
Just say thanks
I have a novel idea that will set you apart in this competitive world of work. Write a thank-you note! With a pen. On stationery. Using your own words. And send it using a bona fide stamp.
We’re all in a hurry and our busy lives leave very little time for what you might think is an extravagance. But when a thank you is appropriate, for…
• An interview.
• A referral.
• A favor.
• A meal.
• A gift.
Invest a bit of your precious time to write that personal, sincere note. You’ll be noticed and it will pay off!
I was recently interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor for a helpful article called Resume Advice for the Over-50 Crowd. I can’t add anything to the article because it is comprehensive and quite good.
So if you fit into the over-50 category and are looking for a job, take a look. You might learn something.
I taped the Super Bowl so I could fast-forward through the game to see the commercials (don’t scoff — I’m sure I’m not the only one who did that). I didn’t understand some, I wasn’t impressed with a few, and several were terrific.
The Tide To Go ad was one of my favorites because it deals with something I feel strongly about. Fair or unfair, we are judged by our appearance and if we are sloppy, dressed inappropriately or have stains on our clothes, the impression we make won’t be a good one.
So before you go out — particularly if it is to a job interview — make sure you are dressed appropriately, well put together and there are no visible stains on your clothes.
Other columns by Melanie Holmes
• Melanie Holmes: Career dos and don’ts: Do your homework on the job search
• Melanie Holmes: On wimpy handshakes and other business etiquette pet peeves
• Melanie Holmes: She’s baaack! Avoiding the etiquette pitfalls of Omarosa
This article previously appeared on the Manpower Web site and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.
WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.