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New Year’s Resolutions for Better Meeting Behaviour

It’s that time of the year when everyone starts sharing their ‘New Year’s resolutions’ at work. ‘Next year I’ll stop smoking’, says Karl; ‘Next year I’ll drink less alcohol’ says Jane; ‘Next year I will eat healthily, go to the gym at least two times a week, train for a marathon…’, closes Betty.

Sure! Charming, pretty, thoughts there, but how many of those are to become a reality, of course, remains to be seen. Betty, Karl and Jane might well be in for the same, tentative promises around the same time next year.

Considering New Year resolutions are the end-of-the-year trend, here is an idea for you― team leader, boss, manager. Inspire your team to reflect on their meeting behaviours by making some changes. People should not be defined by specific roles, such as the ‘quiet one’, the ‘one who is always late’, the ‘one who’s always on the phone’ or ‘always in a hurry’, the ‘talkative one who knows it all’, or the ‘naysayer’.

Getting out of one’s comfort zone is all part of personal development, one would argue. By encouraging some small changes, people will understand better how their meeting behaviours affect others, and meetings in 2019 will be a much more pleasant experience for all.

How do you make change happen?

1. Promote starting meetings on time, with no grace period. Also, keep track of time

So long: ‘let’s wait five more minutes’. Not in 2019. If people are used to coming in late, that should change. Time is too precious to waste it in waiting. Talk about it openly, let the team see what you see and the meeting behaviour will slowly change. Also, finish your meeting on time, by, for example, asking the ones always in a hurry to keep track of time during the meeting. Once it’s their responsibility, they will not complain if the meeting is running late.

2. Start addressing the quiet ones

Meetings are for the exchange of thoughts and ideas, called for because there are issues to discuss. Directly address the quiet ones; if they require more time to process the information, ask them to get back to you privately later, but make it clear that you are keen on hearing what they have to say.  

3. Take the one on mobile devices by surprise

Phones should be switched off during important meetings, but if someone doesn’t and is still invariably on the phone, ask them to consider how their behaviour affects the rest of the team. Yes, do it at the next meeting! He or she will realise that it might not be appropriate.  

4. The naysayers. Why are they doing it?

Investigate the source of the naysayers ‘devil’s advocate’ attitude. The origin might be private, but it should not influence them professionally. They might just need your input to realise how their behaviour is affecting the team’s efforts and the meeting’s productivity.

5. Talking much?

Ask your team member, who always talks too much during meetings, to time himself or herself. The powerful self-realisation that comes when confronted with reality is much more persuasive than anything you can say to the person to make him or her refrain from talking excessively.

6. Last but not least: lead by example

Take a moment and do a little self-examination. If you, as a manager, think there are things you should work on yourself among the above-indicated areas, then do that first. If you are the one who’s always running in a few minutes late, the team will not take you seriously when saying they shouldn’t do it.

Can you make sure these changes will happen? Can you keep your New Year’s resolutions?

How to spot different personality types in meetings?