Effective company meetings are held to bring specific groups, or all personnel together at regular intervals to discuss particular topics of direct importance to the general well being of the company. The goal of meetings is to disseminate new information, get the team involved in problem review, solution proposals and actionable follow through. This takes planning, agendas, open communication that involves all the participants, and avoids chat sessions, bias towards the opinion of certain individuals, or ego endorsements.
Be Aware of the Priorities
The priority of an effective company meeting is to bring employees together to consider such matters as: improving customer service; improving communications and coordination of efforts between departments, between individuals, and between functional groups; actions regarding company policies, productivity, safety; equipment, facilities, staffing, and other requirements for future growth; development of new operational procedures.
It should also provide key managers an opportunity to work with each other on a cooperative and equal level, in order to achieve common objectives. They then become involved in decision-making.
Maintain a Structured Format
The keys to effective company meetings are a carefully structured format and specifically defined objectives. Topics can be chosen by a management committee using a democratic process. Each selected participant, who attends should list one to three priorities that involve at least two other departments. Then once all the priorities are gathered they can be listed on a board or flip chart.
All the members vote on the three highest priorities on the entire list. These are then discussed at that particular meeting. The full list of all the topics is filed. At the end of the meeting, the members select the topics for the next meeting. These form the agenda for the subsequent meeting. This approach promotes the participation of all the members and makes certain that everyone’s list of issues and problems are heard. New priorities are added to the master list as the old ones are addressed and resolved.
The purpose of all effective company meetings is for the group to arrive at a decision that defines the appropriate course of action, and chooses a person responsible for its fulfillment within a specific time frame. Follow up must take place in subsequent meetings to press for accountability in front of the whole group.
Seek Outside Experts
Other supervisors or employees and/or outside individuals may be asked to attend if a particular topic is within their area of expertise, or if they can provide special information or data with regard to a specific topic.
Set Time Limits
There must be a strictly observed time limit for the meeting and for the topics on the agenda. These should be limited to 20 minutes on any single topic. If a solution and recommended action cannot be reached within this time frame, then the topic should be moved to the next meeting.
Rotate the Meeting Chairperson
The person who is put in charge of meetings should be chosen by the other members. Each sitting member is to have an opportunity to act as chairperson for a fixed duration of six months. To avoid domination by the Owner/GM they should have no special veto or try to take control of the meetings.
Use a Flexible Meeting Time
Allow the meetings to be held at any suitable interval – weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. If the topics for discussion become too numerous, you can then meet more frequently. Special meetings can be scheduled to deal with emergency situations. The time and date of the regularly scheduled meeting should not change from one meeting to another.
Make the Requirements Clear
Every member of the management committee should attend, participate in, and contribute thoughts and ideas to each meeting as appropriate. The Chairperson must conduct the proceedings in a systematic and orderly manner. If the conversation and discussion drift from the topic or are not leading to a decision, then they must get it back on track. Each member shall come to the meeting prepared to discuss topics on the agenda that involve their department. Managers should have notes prepared before the meeting so that they can concentrate their thoughts on the subject matter to be discussed. The chairperson will appoint one of the participants to act as a secretary who will take minutes of the meetings and distribute them to those in attendance at the following meeting.
Don’t Stray from the Agenda
The topics for the agenda should be set by all the participants as indicated above. Non-participating employees may recommend topics for the agenda if asked. The agenda should include the meeting date, time, and location, and should be prepared and distributed at least two working days before the meeting, allowing members time to prepare notes, and creative ideas.
Chairperson Must Maintain Control
The owner/GM may add urgent items to an agenda by contacting the designated chairman of that meeting prior to the distribution of the agenda. Other employees may request the addition of an item to an agenda, but the chairperson will have the final decision as to the inclusion of those items. This prevents the takeover or subversion of meetings by the individuals with the most power.