The Bearing Blog — Akron Bearing

16 Mar.,2023


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One way to avoid this is to establish ground rules that everyone agrees on before the meeting begins. These rules include removing temptation by setting limits on texting, email and phone conversations, and requiring people to listen without interrupting. Even if people have agreed in advance to these rules, they may need to be reminded of the ground rules at the beginning of the meeting or during the meeting itself if the rule-breaking is particularly egregious. Such reminding may be done by fellow members or by the meeting leader if there is one.

3. People show up who are not prepared.

They haven’t read the report, document, or spreadsheet that the meeting was about or they have not done the research they promised to do. 
A well-run organization holds staff members accountable for doing their jobs and keeping their promises. But real life often falls short of how we know we should operate. Holding people accountable should be part of any set of ground rules for meetings. When you distribute the agenda in advance, state clearly the preparation that is expected of each member who will participate. Even when you reiterate expectations, there may still be people who don’t think they are the ones who are supposed to be prepared. In a separate setting, the meeting leader or their manager needs to state the obvious: meetings are places where people report on their work, share information, etc. When members fail to do what they promised, they are being disrespectful of other people’s time – those who came to the meeting in order to participate and learn what progress had been made. Not only are they being rude to co- workers, they are also creating actual economic waste of organizational resources.

4. There is no closure for decision-making.

Decisions are discussed but not decided. There is no agreement to support collective decisions once they are made and people continue to fight them, disavow them, or bad-mouth them afterwards.
A good business process gets essential activities done with a minimum of waste. A good meeting process requires decisions or a decision that the topic be continued to the next meeting. Create the expectation that a decision will be made during the meeting and drive for consensus. If a decision still can’t be made, the decision may need to be kicked upstairs or assigned to a sub-group. Then, after everyone has their say and decisions are made, the decision needs to be supported by the entire group, even if some disagree. Otherwise, the disagreements move underground and undermine the workings of all. There is one special exception: if the decision is illegal, immoral, or dangerous. In such cases, dissent may be healthier for the organization in the long run than cooperating in the short run with bad decisions.

5. Meetings are dominated by a few talkers (not necessarily the leader) or there are knowledgeable people who never volunteer to speak up.

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