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Three critical factors of effective and productive meetings

Three critical factors of effective and productive meeting

Communication is an essential part of all human beings. Especially it becomes critically important in business life and when you’re on the management role or need to make negotiations with business partners.

In this topic, we are going to isolate the three most important factors for efficient and productive meetings. Generally, there are many things that need to be considered for successful meetings, but not only three factors. Such things include but not limited to by the goal, right people, agenda, time boxing, right place and time, summary, subject matter expertise, meeting notes and others. But, what is the three most critical or in other words “must-have” items that would allow performing any meeting on a solid level?

Let’s dig to find out.

🎯 Goal.

Can we say that a meeting could happen if there is not a well-defined goal? Well, theoretically some sort of event where folk attends could happen. But this would-be utopia, a discussion with no direction and understanding what we are all doing here. Even if there is a problem that you don’t know how to resolve, the right goal would be to discuss the problem and determine the way to resolve it.

Summary: No well-defined goal, means there will be no meeting. Critical!

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Right people.

It would be unreasonable to discuss an issue with people who have no clue about it. Sometimes, it may happen that you need to have someone to be presented on the meeting, the person who can be a decision-maker and if you know that this person has a lack of understanding of the question, it would be good to make a dedicated private introduction of the subject to that person. Thus, you can expect that after some introduction into the subject, a particular person can contribute to the meeting and make a decision if it’s expected.  Additionally, people who are not related to the question will simply waste their time setting on the meeting and in the worse case scenarios may even try to create unproductive noise.

Summary: Even if the audience of the meeting is not selected properly but key people are presented, the productive meeting more likely to happen considering the risks described.

✔️ Agenda.

OK, we have a well-defined goal which is a critical factor for the meeting. Now it’s time to create an agenda for the meeting or in other words plan how to reach the goal (example: how to resolve the problem). One of the most important things of a good agenda is to explorer the nature of the issue and lead a common understanding between all attendees. Furthermore, a good agenda should address the steps needed to resolve the problem, their pros & cons and potential outcome. In an ideal case, scenario Agenda should be delivered to all the potential meeting attendees in advance, so that the can get into it and be ready for the discussion in a more productive way.

Summary: Agenda is a critical factor for a productive meeting. Having only a goal with no Agenda could lead you to stuck and you won’t know how to drive the meeting toward the goal.

🕐 Time boxing.

Time is the money and everybody heard that saying. It’s absolutely true of the meeting. First, when you are inviting someone to the meeting, you should understand that you are taking people away from other things (maybe from more important things or their direct duties stuff for which they are getting paid). That’s why it is also important to invite the right people so that they can contribute or at least have a stake in the discussion. Second, is that when people aware that the duration of the meeting is time-limited, they will try to express their thoughts more precisely without unneeded details.

Summary: Time-boxing is a really important factor, but it’s not a critical factor absence of which will lead to unproductive meetings considering that critical factors are available.

🏢 Right place and time.

It is a good tone to schedule meetings at the right time when the right people will be available and in the right place so that no one will not disturb the discussion. However, if it’s a critical question that needs to be discussed immediately, let the meeting happen no matter it’s an office hall or your cabin in open space (or hell, joke 🙂 ).

Summary: Right place and time are really important as attendance of the audience are very dependent on this, but this is not a breaker for meeting in emergency cases…

📝 Meeting summary.

I’ve been attending many meetings and continue to do this and I continue to see that even experienced managers relatively often missing this part. Even if the meeting was maintained properly it’s necessary to summarize the results of the meeting to make sure that all attendees aligned on the meeting summary. Ideally, the meeting summary should also include action items that should be delegated to people who will be responding to them or a conclusion that fulfills the goal of the meeting. If for whatever reason there were no well-defined summary with action items, then topics that were covered should be documented with the major comments on them, so the next time you won’t need to start from scratch and will be able to refer on what was discussed and commented.

Summary: The meeting summary is a critical key to a productive and efficient meeting. Even a healthy discussion that went fine will be just another waste of time without a summary which should consider the action items that will lead to toward the meeting goal.

🎓 Subject expertise.

The meeting will be much productive if the subject experts will be attended. Though, it’s a kind of common sense factor to invite so-called right people to the meeting who could actively contribute and help to find an efficient way to resolve the issue.

Summary: It’s important, though it can’t be considered as critical for many reasons. For example, the final decision-makers who may be invited to the meeting may rely on your expertise as you could be considered as the most experienced person in a particular scope. Also, it is possible that there are no other experts in your organization that could challenge you in a particular scope fair enough. Anyway, it’s necessary that attendees understand the purpose of the question at least on a high level.

📋 Meeting notes.

It’s an excellent tone to write down the major things and topics discussed. Thus, it’s very unlikely that something will be missed.
Summary: The meeting note is good to have attribute of an efficient and productive meeting. Nevertheless, it’s only optional considering that Meeting Summary is must-have critical thing!

Of course, there are more other factors that are not covered here. In the scope of this topic, we reviewed the major only.

So let’s summarize and outline the most critical 3 factors for the productive and effective meeting.

1️⃣ Goal (What I am trying to resolve/achieve)

2️⃣ Agenda (Intro to the issue and plan toward the goal)

3️⃣ Summary (Conclusion with a number of action items toward the goal or intermediate point)

This is a pretty unpleasant situation, but realistically this happens to most of us at least some times. Like all human beings, all people do mistakes and bosses are not the exclusion. In this material, we are not going to discuss the situation when the boss punishing someone from day-to-day on a regular basis. This totally unacceptable and this truly an unhealthy situation. In this article, we are going to discuss the scenario when let’s say you’ve been punished by your boss for the mistake you’ve never ever done.

Let’s imagine that at the meeting where you and your boss are both presented, the boss started to discuss you in an unpleasant way refers to the mistake you’ve never done.

What should be your reaction?

  1. First, it’s important to stay calm.
  2. Second, try to accept the thing which is addressed to you in a polite manner in order to avoid escalation.

When the meeting is finished and degree of the negative emotions slow down, the next day or in a couple of days (but do not postpone for too long as it will lose actuality) meet your boss in person. Tell to your boss that you would like to discuss that situation in the meeting when you’ve been mentioned: “due to some mistakes” (remind them).  Continue, that you presume that some details may not be known and explain your vision of the situation wherein your opinion you didn’t make any mistake that worth critic.  Don’t forget to mention that you’ve been calm at the meeting as you appreciate your boss and didn’t want to create noise or affect his authority in any case.

In most cases, such a fair discussion considering the fact that you’ve stayed calm on the meeting and didn’t try to push back even though you’ve been criticized for no real reason will only benefit your authority and your boss will start to respect you even more.

Can I let this situation go and even not discuss it?

Well… You can. If it doesn’t frustrate you too much, you can let this situation go. But bear in mind that if such a situation repeats, there is no other option, but to talk to your boss in person. Otherwise, if more and more times your boss will start discussing you in a negative way or even swearing you for the mistakes you never did, one day this could lead your personality to a bad association for your boss. That’s something that you more likely don’t want to happen as it could have a significant impact on your career in a particular organization and even more.

I really hope there will be not many similar situations in your life and career, but if this happens, now you have an idea of how to act and remember that all people do the mistakes and bosses are not exclusion.

 

 

In short: Yes!

Scrum Master is a manager and the main reason for that is that normally a manager is a role who has the power to make decisions and resolve the problems. One of the main things that are expected from Scrum Master is to remove the impediments on the way of the Scrum Team.

If we say that Scrum Master is not the manager then it would be unreasonable to expect from the regular clerk to resolve the problems and remove the impediments. Isn’t it? Therefore, we should normally consider Scrum Master as a management position that is empowered enough to resolve most of the day to day routine things. And luckily for most cases, it’s true. Most of the organization empower this role with management privileges (in most cases a mid-management role which fulfill the most of the needs).

Let’s discuss the roots…
The major thing why people are doubt to consider Scrum Master’s role as a manager is because it’s expected that this role will behave relatively unusual to what is normally expected from the manager.

By default, when we speak about the manager in general, we normally consider a person who rules according to the privileges empowered by the position.

In the Agile, ruling as we know it in the traditional sense is not appreciated. In the Agile environment manager or Scrum Master in other words considered as a servant leader that leads people by example and acts from the best intentions to the organization and team. And only in a very unusual case, it’s admissible that manager or Scrum Master, in other words, would act solely based on the privileges empowered by role. That is why there are a lot of gossips and uncertainties whether to consider the Scrum Master as a manager or not.

So, is Scrum Master is a management role? Yes, it is!
Nevertheless, in the Agile environment, it’s expected that this role will behave in a relatively different way from what is normally expected from the managers in the traditional sense. Scrum Master is known as a servant leader that leads people by example and acts from the best intentions to befit the organization and the team.

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