In several past blog entries we have written about various aspects of how to conduct effective meetings. Based on the number of hits we have had on these articles, they have been fairly popular.
Today, I want to focus on WHEN your committee should meet. Whether it is an employee involvement team, a Labor-Management Committee, or any other group, your decisions about when to have meetings will impact their effectiveness.
Here is the basic rule for when to meet:
Establish a regular meeting schedule and stick to it.
That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is very easy to deviate from this practice.
Teams often fall into the trap of not having regular meetings. It becomes easy to cancel meetings or meet infrequently or irregularly. These traps can destroy the effectiveness of you team and make real problem solving virtually impossible.
Meetings should be scheduled in advance on a regular, consistent schedule. Many of our teams schedule their meetings for the next six months to a year. This enables everyone to get the date on their calendar and avoid other conflicts. Team members are expected to place enough priority on the meetings to avoid scheduling other things in conflict with the meetings.
Part of establishing a regular meeting schedule is consistency of dates and times. If the meeting this month was Tuesday morning, last month was Thursday afternoon, and next month is Wednesday, it makes it more difficult to remember when they are. We do recommend that under most circumstances, team avoid meeting on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons, since effective meetings require the full attention of all participants.
We realize that some conflicts will occur and force members to miss meetings. Everyone is busy, and legitimate things will occur that cause someone to be absent from a meeting. This should be the exception, not the normal situation. If members consistently miss meetings, they are not able to add full value to the team.
In the same way, it will be necessary at times to cancel meetings. We have had teams cancel due to production needs, accreditation visits, or other legitimate concerns. However, just as with individual attendance, meeting cancellations should be rare occurrences. When they occur too often, it is a sign of the lack of importance placed on the team.
If your committee considers cancelling meetings because there is nothing on the agenda, it is a sign the group is not working hard enough. It is likely they are operating in reactive mode, only coming together when something, usually bad, has happened. They need to identify potential concerns and problems before they occur and work proactively to prevent them. It’s much better to fix things before they go wrong.
If a team is to be effective, it needs to work together. No matter what type of committee or group is involved, meetings keep the group focused and helps them make progress, but only if they are held on a regular, consistent basis. Failure to do this makes it more difficult for the team to be successful or productive.
For more help with the effectiveness of your committees or their meetings, contact CALMC.