Category Archives: Jean Kelley

Top 10 Tips for Running a Great Meeting

By Jean KelleyJean Kelley

Any meeting you conduct at work is a reflection of you. What kind of image are you portraying? Professional, on-target, and efficient? Or unprepared, unproductive, and ineffective?

Unfortunately, few people receive formal training on how to conduct a great meeting, and this lack of training is apparent in corporate conference rooms across the country. Between meetings that ramble on with no agenda and no action steps to participants feeling bored and questioning why the meeting is even taking place, it’s no wonder that so many people dread going to meetings.

In order to conduct a meeting that boosts your credibility and helps you achieve the company’s goals, keep these top 10 meeting tips in mind.

1) Know if you really need a formal meeting at all: Before sending the meeting invites, define why you’re having the meeting. Is it really necessary? Is there another way to accomplish the result? If you have a small department or group of attendees, perhaps a “stand up” meeting will suffice. In this case, you simply get everyone to gather in the hall, say what they need to know, and then everyone disbands within five minutes. It’s a quick, painless, and highly effective way to get a message out.

2) Set expectations prior to the meeting: If a meeting is indeed necessary, create the agenda and send it out prior to the meeting so people are clear on what’s going to be covered. If multiple topics are on the agenda, include a time allotment for each item. Also list a meeting adjournment time…and stick with it. The more detailed you are, the more professional you look.

3) Facilitate well during the meeting: The facilitator’s job is to keep the meeting running smoothly, to make sure everyone gets a say, and to lead people through areas of conflict. Realize that no meeting “runs itself.” You need to lead people through each segment of the agenda and work for a resolution to each area of discussion.

4) Beware of Parkinson’s Law: As you facilitate, keep Parkinson’s Law in mind: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” The same is true for meetings. If you’ve set an hour for the meeting, chances are the meeting will drag on to fill that time slot. To keep this from happening, announce at the onset, “If we get through this agenda before the adjournment time, we all get to leave early.” Make that the goal, not the posted adjournment time.

5) Allow conflict: If the goal of your meeting is to solve a problem, then conflict is inevitable. Welcome it. A good facilitator will recognize when emotions get too high and will step in to keep the meeting on track. But don’t strive to avoid conflict. Nothing gets solved without first having a conflict of ideas.

6) Assign action steps: In a perfect world, people would 100% self-manage. We don’t live in a perfect world. That’s why the meeting leader needs to wrap up the meeting by summarizing the key points and then assigning the action steps. Decide who is going to do what and by when. Also determine how everyone will follow up on the action steps. Who is holding people accountable for doing what needs to get done? The more follow up and accountability you have, the more likely you are to accomplish the stated goals.

7) Delegate the meeting responsibility: Just because you’re a department or company leader doesn’t mean you have to lead every meeting. Delegate some meetings to others so they can gain experience in this critical skill. If you don’t feel comfortable delegating the entire meeting, delegate a part of the meeting that’s focused on a specific topic. Give everyone a turn to develop their meeting prowess.

8) Know when to lead and when to participate: When you do delegate a meeting, or when you’re attending someone else’s meeting, resist the urge to “take over” the meeting. Of course you can be an active participant and state your opinions, but let the other person do their job and have the spotlight as the leader. They may not run the meeting exactly like you would, but it’s their meeting. Let their own leadership style shine.

9) Always let people out early: Remember when you were a kid and the teacher let you out of class a minute or two early? Chances are you liked that teacher and didn’t mind going back to his or her class. Adults are the same way. The minute you start going over the stated adjournment time, people disengage and tune out. Instead, let them out a few minutes early. If you’ve followed all the other points mentioned thus far, an early adjournment should be possible. If your meeting topic still has loose ends, address those key items with the needed parties privately. Keeping everyone in the meeting to address final points that don’t pertain to the group as a whole leaves people frustrated and bored—not the kind of last impression you want.

10) Most important…Have fun! Meetings have a reputation for being boring and uninspiring, so give people a chance to leave with something other than the agenda. For example, if the meeting takes place around a holiday, put out some holiday candies or small decorations that people can take. Or, if the topic is dull, like a production and drilling report meeting, give people small hand clappers (hand shaped noise makers that you shake and they make clapping noises). Tell everyone, “If I say something good, pick this up and make some noise.” Do what you can to make a dull meeting memorable and fun.

Make Your Meetings Work: Meetings don’t have to be something people dread. When you implement these 10 tips for your future meetings, you’ll gain a reputation for being an effective meeting facilitator. And rather than being viewed as time wasters, your meetings will actually get things done.

Jean Kelley, author and entrepreneur, is the managing director of Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance whose faculty and Trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the US and in Canada. For information on keynotes, in-house programs, or customized training, email jkelley@jeankelley.com or go to jeankelley.com.

The Top Meeting Pet Peeves that Plague Organizations

By Jean KelleyJean Kelley

Tell most business people that there’s another meeting on their agenda, and you’ll likely see them shake their head, roll their eyes, and mumble something under their breath.  That’s because nearly all meetings succumb to a few pet peeves – those annoying meeting happenings that derail the meeting’s purpose, waste time, and cause friction and frustration among attendees.

While all types of meetings fall prey to pet peeves, it’s the process-oriented, information sharing meetings that most business people dislike…and that are the most common.  Even though the role of this sort of meetings is to keep others informed and to learn how what they’re doing fits in the big picture, many people leave these types of meetings feeling confused, aggravated, and sometimes overwhelmed.

This is a huge problem for business, because if a meeting isn’t informative at the very least and enjoyable at the most, then the company is wasting a lot of money getting people together.  Additionally, if your meetings aren’t on the mark, you’ll get the reputation for holding poor meetings, which erodes morale and productivity.

To ensure your meetings are effective, informative and enjoyable, be aware of the top five meeting pet peeves and avoid them at all costs.

Pet Peeve #1 – Not Having an Agenda or Not Sticking to One: The top three rules for Toastmasters are to start the meeting on time, end it on time, and always have an agenda.  This rule should be true for business meeting too.

Having an agenda is not only simple courtesy; it also tells attendees that the meeting has a goal and will be productive.  An agenda gives the meeting facilitator control over the meeting’s flow, keeps the meeting on task, and reduces confusion among participants.  Realize that the agenda does not need to be elaborate; a simple bullet list of topics is all you need to prepare.

Remember to send the agenda out a day or so before the meeting so attendees can prepare.  And if you forget to send it out early, bring copies of the agenda to hand out when the meeting starts. On meeting day, stick with the agenda.  If a topic comes up in conversation that is not on the agenda, offer to address that topic after the meeting.  This way you keep the meeting on schedule and don’t derail the meeting’s purpose.

Pet Peeve #2 – Lack of Facilitation: Some people mistakenly believe that meetings run on their own – that all you have to do is get a group of people together in a room and they’ll automatically produce good results.  Wrong! Getting the people together is the easy part; leading them in a productive discussion takes skill.  That’s why solid meeting facilitation is so critical.

The facilitator’s job is to control the flow of the meeting, to help attendees work together, to provide structure to the meeting, and to get everyone involved.  When attendees are allowed to have their cell phones ringing during the meeting, when one or two people are permitted to dominate the conversation, or when it’s acceptable for key people to not contribute to the discussion, good facilitation is lacking.  Therefore, make sure all your meetings have an effective facilitator at the helm.

Pet Peeve #3 – People Arriving Late to the Meeting: How many meetings have you arrived to on time, only to have the meeting start late as everyone waits for others to show up?  Even worse, if the meeting does start on time, it restarts 10 minutes later when a few people straggle in. Rather than continue with the meeting, the facilitator attempts to bring the late comers up to speed by rehashing everything that was just covered.

But why penalize the people who arrived on time?  A better approach is to close the door when the meeting starts and put a note on the door that says, “Meeting in Progress.” Those who arrive late will know to sneak in as inconspicuously as possible…and, hopefully, they won’t make the same mistake next time. Additionally, unless the late person is the boss, don’t restart the meeting later.  When meeting start times are enforced and honored, people will make the effort to be on time.

Pet Peeve #4 – Using PowerPoint When It’s Not Needed: PowerPoint is an essential business tool, but it’s not effective for all meeting types.  Unfortunately, many people believe that ALL meetings require the use of PowerPoint.  Not true!  Typical information sharing meetings require a facilitator asking questions and everyone contributing in round-robin style.  Watching someone read PowerPoint slides is not how these meetings should run.  After all, if people simply needed to read pages of text, you could just send them the file and skip the meeting completely.

Of course, if your informational meeting needs more of people’s senses involved, then use PowerPoint to add that visual component.  Likewise, if you’re combining everyone’s data and showing it in chart or graph form, PowerPoint is great.  But don’t use PowerPoint just for the sake of it.  Know why you’re using it, and then do it right.

Pet Peeve #5 – Listening to Unprepared or Ineffective Speakers: Nothing is worse than listening to a monotone speaker who says “um” or “ah” every other word…or having someone start their portion of the meeting by saying, “I really didn’t prepare anything for this, so let’s just wing it.”

While everyone should speak and offer ideas at these meetings, some people may have to give more thoughtful, polished information.  These people should be identified beforehand so they have time to prepare.  This is crucial, because in most organizations, to be promoted you must have solid public speaking skills.

Additionally, if someone simply isn’t good at giving presentations, no matter how much preparation he or she does, that person needs to get support and training to become more effective.  Granted, no one wants to tell a colleague, “You need to work on your public speaking skills,” but offering support to others will not only make meetings more effective, it will also make the company stronger.

Do Your Part: Business meetings are a mainstay in our work-world, so no matter what you think of them, they’ll never go away.  Knowing this, isn’t it time we all work to avoid the top meeting pet peeves?  If we all do our part, we can make meetings more enjoyable, more productive, and more meaningful for everyone involved.  And that’s one kind of meeting everyone will love to attend.

Jean Kelley, author and entrepreneur, is the managing director of Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance whose faculty and Trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the US and in Canada. For information on keynotes, in-house programs, or customized training, email jkelley@jeankelley.com or go to jeankelley.com.

What to Do When You’re Hated at Work

By Jean KelleyJean Kelley

At some point in your career, you’ve probably felt disliked—or even hated—by someone at work. Maybe it was your boss, a co-worker, or someone in a different department you interacted with occasionally. Perhaps the person was trying to get you fired, make you look bad, or just cause you frustration and self-doubt. Does this sound familiar? Is it happening to you now?

Whoever it was and whatever they did, this person made your work-life miserable…and that’s a serious problem for your career, your health, and all your other relationships. Recent medical studies from all over the world show that being around someone who negatively impacts you affects you physiologically as well as psychologically. These studies cite that everything from heart attacks to depression can result from an environment that’s toxic to you. Notice the key phrase “toxic to you.” Even though the environment might not be toxic to others, it might be toxic to you.

So what can you do when you’re the target of someone’s dislike? In reality, no matter who hates you or what they’re doing to show it, you have three—and only three—options.

Option 1 – Ignore it: You may be able to ignore the situation, especially if the person who hates you doesn’t work with you directly, interacts with you infrequently, and isn’t trying to get you in trouble. If the brunt of the problem consists of a few mean glances in the elevator or a cold shoulder in the break room, then ignoring it could be the answer. Sometimes you just need to develop thicker skin.

However, if you have a gnawing feeling in your gut every time you see the person, that means you can’t ignore it. The feelings are taking their toll on you and will affect your health at some point. Remember, we’re social beings, so feeling hated is stressful. Any additional stress will negatively affect you in some way. Therefore, it’s time to look at option number two.

Option 2 – Fix it: Yes, you can fix the situation. To do so, first realize your part in it. While most of us wouldn’t lie to a trusted friend, we lie to ourselves every day. Something pivotal happened that caused this person to hate you. Identify it. Perhaps you were hired from the outside over them…maybe you got the nicer office they wanted…perhaps the boss liked your marketing idea better…possibly you reacted to their constructive criticism in a negative way…or maybe you mistakenly took their can of soda from the break room refrigerator thinking it was yours. Look back over the course of your relationship with the person and pinpoint when the negativity started and your role in it.

Next, decide to have a much-needed “difficult conversation” with the person. Realize that if you don’t talk to the person, nothing will change. People are complex and we never know what they’re thinking unless we ask them. Sure, we often think we know what’s going on in someone else’s head, but in reality, we don’t. That’s why having this conversation is so important.

Taking this step requires courage, but it’s always step in the right direction. There are many resources and books available that detail how to approach and have these difficult conversations. Research it and then do it.

Option 3 – Leave: Of course, if you can’t ignore the person and if you don’t want to fix the relationship, then you always have the option to leave. If you choose this option, be smart about it. Don’t stomp out one day out of frustration. Rather, explore other options within the company. If the organization is large, confide in HR and see if you can be moved to another office location or another department. If the company is small, perhaps you can transfer to a desk or office space on a different floor or away from the person you’re having challenges with. Sometimes physical distance is all the problem needs.

Realize that deciding to leave is a huge step in any job market. Therefore, stay at your current job while you look for another one. Taking action on your own behalf and knowing that another opportunity is on the horizon could give you the motivation you need to push through the challenges you’re currently facing.

Put an End to the Hate: No one likes being hated, especially at work where we spend the majority of the day. But once you know and understand your options for dealing with the situation, you can take positive steps to ensure it doesn’t affect your career or your health. No matter which option you choose, honest communication—with yourself and others—is the key to creating a work-life that is both prosperous and pleasurable.

Jean Kelley, author and entrepreneur, is the managing director of Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance whose faculty and Trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the US and in Canada. For information on keynotes, in-house programs, or customized training, email jkelley@jeankelley.com or go to jeankelley.com.