Ways to keep your next meeting from going off the rails

Managers and employees can both do more to improve work culture.

By Jane Burnett

Meetings: You have to live with them in corporate America, which means you can’t live without them. So, when you’re not the one calling the shots, it’s easy to feel like you have no control over how meetings play out — or how long they end up being.

Here’s what both managers and employees can do to make the meeting culture easier on everyone.

Shut down that person who talks too much

Francesca Gino, an author and professor at Harvard Business School, writes in the Harvard Business Review about a way to cut down on interruptions — to “enlist the group.”

“If you’d prefer to avoid embarrassing the interrupter, you can address the whole group without pointing fingers. Ask the group to reflect on whether you are communicating effectively together and what could be improved,” she writes. “This strategy would allow every member, including you, to raise their awareness of challenges facing the group, a first important step in addressing problems like this one.”

Does someone keep stopping by your desk for a mid-day chat, when you’re knee-deep in all the work you have to do? Try using the FlowLight so others know how you’re doing, and whether or not it’s a good time to come over and talk.

Don’t let it go into overtime

Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach, author, and founder, writes in U.S. News & World Report about how having a brief agenda can help a meeting from going on for too long, and that points can include “your main objective,” the “order of importance of your talking points” and “how much time you should allot for them.”

“Trying to fit too much material into a meeting is another sure way to run over. Instead of cramming a lot of talking points into one meeting, plan on talking for only half of the allotted time,”Crawford advises. “For example, if you have planned a 45-minute meeting, determine which two to three items on your agenda you really need to discuss with your employees, and which items could wait until next time or possibly even be resolved via email.”

An agenda is only as useful as you make it, though, so try not to stray from it.

Picking up the pieces after a heated exchange

This happens all the time and can get pretty awkward once the dust settles.

After an argument, managers should take the time to see where both parties are coming from, and what could work for each person going forward. Don’t be afraid to jump in when you feel like things are heading south — just be sure to appear composed and use every word deliberately to moderate the situation that’s unfolding.

Soon enough, team members will be onto the next meeting or back at their desks and before you know it, they’ll have moved on from the heated interactions that spiraled out of control during this meeting.

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Originally published at www.theladders.com

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