Let’s talk about meetings

Meetings. Many meetings. That’s what’s going on in my job. Not that I have to attend many of them (there’s probably about five meetings that I actually attend). But I do schedule them. Quite a few of them, in fact.

Given the large project I’m working on . . . yes, meetings need to happen. The team meets to coordinate tasks or discuss design. Then the team meets with the Program Administrator and/or the Deputy Program Administrator to brief them on project status or get the okay-to-proceed. And the Program Administrators have to brief upward to their leadership—more meetings.

So I get it; I really do. Meetings are a necessity on large engineering projects.

What I don’t get (but am learning to live with), is how those leading the meetings can easily allow the meeting to not start on time, or allow it to run past the calendared time.

We could try to find the root cause of why the meeting started late, or why it ran over. Sometimes it’s obvious—the meeting leader chose to wait until all attendees had arrived. (But trickle that down and you’ll have to ask why those attendees were late. Because the meeting they just left ran over?)

Is it just me? Am I the only one who cares if a meeting starts on time and ends on time?

I just don’t get why the meeting leader doesn’t put more of an effort into making sure the meeting starts on time. And then managing the meeting so it ends on time.

Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks it’s the meeting leader’s job to make sure their meeting starts on time and ends on time?

If you’re the meeting leader—I’m curious as to why you don’t start the meeting on time. I’m curious why you can’t control the discussion so the meeting ends on time.

I have a simple solution.

Get a timekeeper! Ask (or assign) someone to keep an eye on the time. If the topic is going longer than planned—ding ding ding! (Or whatever form it takes to indicate time’s up).

That should help, ya think?

BTW, once you’re in the groove of keeping track of meeting time, you know what your agenda should look like, right? It has to have time blocks listed for each agenda item. (Ugh—please don’t tell me you don’t have agendas for your meetings; that’s a whole ‘nother discussion area!)


Feedback Guts, Part 3

Personal Growth

I’ve been sharing the results of my President’s Performance Feedback (two previous posts: Part 1 here,  and Part 2 here).

Here’s another survey question in which I wasn’t sure how the results would turn out:  If you could offer constructive criticism to the chapter president, what would you say?

If I had to guess, I would say they would say I pushed too hard. I would think they might say that I should ask for the entire board’s opinion more often, instead of just asking a few team members who were responsible for the particular committee/task work. That’s what I would think.

So I was a little surprised by some of the results of that question . . . survey said:

  • I am in awe of Judy’s drive and vision. However, I think sometimes she approaches our small chapter as if it were a huge company or project. There has been too much paperwork required of the board this year. And some of the terminology she uses feels overly-corporate and unappealing. Tendency towards micro-managing. But I wish our chapter had 10 more Judys!
  • Loosen the reigns a bit! We are a volunteer organization. People are giving up their personal time to participate in programs and be on the BoD. That needs to be remembered when it comes to time commitments and reporting.
  • I’m impressed with what she’s accomplished but I don’t think it’s sustainable.

I’m not sure what “I don’t think it’s sustainable” means. Does that mean the changes we’ve made? Until I know what the respondent meant by that, I won’t be able to do anything with that response or make any changes if changes are needed.

On the “Loosen the reigns a bit!” and “too much paperwork” responses: Yes, I did ask the board to send me progress reports before each board meeting, and I asked them to report on three things: what did you accomplish, what are you working on, and are there any red flags. I wasn’t on the board the previous year, so I don’t know if this is what they are referring to. Having the board send me progress reports helped me formulate the questions I felt I needed to ask in order to help make sure the committee chairs’ work kept going, to make sure nothing fell through the cracks by asking those progress report questions. Should I stop requesting those progress reports just because two people commented about too much reporting/paperwork? I’d hate to have to do that, because those reports are a management tool for me.

And, it would be helpful if I had some examples of the “overly-corporate and unappealing terminology.” So some of the words I used bothered someone? I don’t recall purposely trying to use certain words. And right now, I can’t recall any words that I typically wouldn’t use or don’t use in other situations. Yes, it would definitely help if I knew what words they speak of, because then I would get a sense of how what I’m saying—the words I’m using—might be a turn off for some people.

Micro-managing? Me? Maybe. Okay, yeah, I guess I could see that. But as I said before, is it micro-managing, or is it just paying attention to details, staying on top of things so things get done, no one drops the ball? I’m not hovering (how can you hover when you don’t even work in the same office?). I’m not checking in with them on a daily basis (sometimes I don’t check in until our next monthly board meeting). Micro-managing examples would be most appreciated here, so I can see what I’m doing to make them think I’m micro-managing.

Yes, there’s always room for personal growth.