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Archive for the ‘Meetings’ Category

Many of us have been sheltering (working) at home for at least two weeks now.  It’s important that we all do our part to “flatten the curve” we’ve all heard about related to COVID-19.  It is a challenge for most people – to be “cooped up” in their homes.  Human beings are social, so only seeing and interacting with the same people day after day can become challenging – no matter how much you love them.

We’ve all heard the complaints about how difficult it is to work from home or how irritating a spouse is (try having three college aged children back at home with your wife and 12 year old starting to go through puberty if you want to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes). 

We’ve also heard the funny stories about people forgetting they didn’t put pants on during their Zoom call and standing up to reveal their boxers (or worse). 

I thought it would be good to share some thoughts about how to have a successful work from home day while under “shelter”.  DISCLAIMER:  These are things that work for me and may not work for everyone.  If you have other tips that are working for you – or just want to share a funny story, please feel free to add them.

Work from Home Tips:

  • Have a routine and stick with it
  • Have an area of the house that is your work area and do all your work there – just as if you were at your office
  • Don’t sit for more than one hour at a time – get up and walk around the house, stretch your legs, take a “brain break” (But make it short…you don’t need more than a few minutes)
  • Eat healthy food in small quantities several times per day
  • Even if dressed more casually than if you were at your office, dress completely
  • Make sure you spend some time for yourself (reading, exercising, thinking, listening to podcasts or music) at least four times daily.  HINT:  I choose to spread this time out throughout the day – reading when I wake up and just before bed, walking right after breakfast, exercising around Noon. 
  • Make sure you spend time each day doing something fun or relaxing together as a family.  (Play games, read, watch tv, take walks, etc…)  You are all stuck in the house together and it is easy to skip the “fun things together” part – DON’T!
  • Remember some-day this will all be over.  When it is, don’t just go back to the same old ways – keep some of the new habits you’ve created that are healthy, good and help you be more productive and happier.

MY TYPICAL DAY:

Wake up at 4 am and read the latest news about COVID-19.  If possible, go back to sleep until 5 am.

Wake up at 5 am.  Read more news about COVID-19.  Read news and other publications about government assistance programs for small businesses.  Scan the Wall Street Journal.  Read emails from overnight.  Read daily Bible story.  Feed the dog and make breakfast (two or three fried eggs, Ezekial bread toast and sausage).  Walk the dog. 

8:30 – 11:30 am.  Review daily plan.  Adjust as necessary based on readings and emails.  Video conference call meetings; approve various communications; work on projects.

11:30 am – 1:00 pm.  Workout, eat lunch, shower.

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  More video conference calls; work on projects and tasks assigned to today.  Eat at least two small, healthy snacks between 2 and 5 pm.

5:00 pm – Enter time for the day; Review plan for tomorrow; Empty email inbox.

6:00 pm – Shoot hoops in driveway with children; play ping pong with family; walk the dog; assist with dinner preparation; eat dinner and clean up

8:00 pm – Play games with family.  Dominos, Psych, Head’s Up, Talk about what we learned today (the college aged children especially like this)

9:30 pm – Read for pleasure and/or watch TV. 

10:30 pm – Lights Out 

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Associations, companies and other organizations have been using conference and video calling to meet and conduct business for many years.  Most of us are very experienced with the process and have developed methods to be productive and polite when holding these “virtual” meetings.

During the last few weeks the sheer number of virtual meetings and volume of participants has grown exponentially.  Because of this increased use it seems some calls may be less productive than they should be and many of us have forgotten our virtual meeting etiquette.  Check out these videos of what some of your calls may be like:

A conference call in real life:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYu_bGbZiiQ

A video call in real life:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMOOG7rWTPg

It seems a good time to share the best practices for virtual meetings. 

Here are some to consider.  If you have additional best practices you think are effective, please feel free to add them by replying to this blog posting. 

  • Login to your call at least 10 minutes ahead of time to make sure your technology is working and you have time for any new updates to run before the call.
  • If a video call, make sure to view what your video looks like before the call begins.  Are you framed properly?  Is the lighting good enough so people can see your face? 
  • When entering the meeting, don’t just start talking.  Wait for an opening and say your full name clearly.
  • When you aren’t talking, leave your phone/computer on mute.
  • If you’re the chair of the meeting, make sure to start the meeting on time.  Time is precious and people who planned ahead and prepared for the meeting shouldn’t be made to wait for latecomers. 
  • Have an agenda for every call.  The best practice should be to share that agenda in advance with all participants.  If that’s not possible, share your screen and/or review the entire agenda at the beginning of the call so all participants understand what’s to be addressed during the meeting.
  • Clearly state the purpose/goals of the meeting at the beginning.
  • When you would like to talk, don’t just jump in.  Wait for a pause, then say, “This is Rick” and wait for the meeting leader to acknowledge you.  If you’re using a video call, you can also use the Raise Hand feature and wait to be acknowledged by the meeting leader before you speak. 
  • Keep your remarks brief.  Don’t repeat what others have said.  You can say, “I agree with Beth.  Additionally, I think …”. 
  • If you’re doing other things while on the call, freeze your video frame or turn video off so you aren’t distracting the other meeting participants.
  • When the meeting is concluding, the leader should summarize the actions taken and any assignments made.  If another call is necessary, plans for scheduling that call should be made.

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Meetings are necessary to achieve consensus – especially in associations.  We’ve all been in those meetings that were a complete waste of time.  Make sure meetings you run are not a waste of time but are productive and help your organization work toward achieving its mission. 

To do so, we have identified seven keys to running successful, productive meetings:

  • Have an agenda for every meeting
    • Every meeting should have an agenda that identifies all the items to be covered during the meeting.  The agenda should clearly state the purpose of the meeting and the expected outcomes for the meeting and should be distributed enough in advance of the meeting for participants to review and give thought to the items being addressed. The purpose and expected outcomes should also be restated by the leader at the beginning of the meeting. 
  • If you need volunteers for activities, get them lined up before the meeting – never ask for volunteers during a meeting
    • So many times it happens, an item is discussed and after it’s decided upon, we seek a volunteer to “lead it”.  You know in advance the items being addressed and discussed so line up your volunteers before the meeting.  This will help assure you get interested, passionate people leading your activities.   
  • Make sure all planned actions during the meeting are related to strategic goals of the organization
    • If it’s not helping to achieve your mission, you shouldn’t be doing it. 
  • The meeting leader (President, Committee Chair, etc.) should be a facilitator, not a dictator
    • This is very important and is often a difference between for profit corporate leaders and successful association leaders.  Remember all members are equal.  It’s the job of the meeting leader to facilitate the discussion – make sure all points of view are given an opportunity to be discussed and debated.
  • Achieve consensus
    • Before any votes are taken, make sure all participants understand what they’re voting on and give ample time for discussion. 
    • Do not allow people to filibuster or to repeat positions already articulated by others. 
    • See our blog on achieving consensus for more information.
  • Make sure all decisions are clearly articulated at the end of the meeting
    • In order to assure the expected actions occur between meetings, it’s important the decisions are clearly articulated.  If assignments are created, be sure due dates are also assigned.
  • Be sure accurate minutes are taken during the meeting and distributed promptly following the meeting including any assignments and due dates
    • Minutes are the historical record of your meetings and decisions.  Be sure you have accurate minutes for all your meetings.  Additionally, between meetings, follow up with people who have assignments to be sure they’re on track

If you follow these seven simple steps your meetings will be efficient and will lead to successes for your association.  Happy Meeting!

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It’s the time of year again when many associations are implementing their nomination and election process.  Because associations are groups of people or companies in the same profession or industry there are many opportunities for conflict and other challenges as an association goes through its nomination and election process. 

To avoid challenges which can lead to bigger problems such as hurt feelings, dropped memberships, etc., it is important that every association have a clear nomination and election process and that the process is followed each and every time. 

Below are some suggestions you might consider including in your nomination and election process:

  • Have a nominating committee whose responsibility is to develop and/or review nominations.  The nominating committee could include a current leader, such as the president; a former leader, such as the most recent past president; and possibly a future leader, such as an engaged committee member. 
  • The nominating committee should work throughout the year to identify potential future leaders. 
  • The nominating committee should have discussions with potential future leaders to gauge their level of interest and commitment prior to nominating them. 
  • If the membership is engaged in the nomination process, the nominating committee should make sure ample opportunity and notice is provided to the membership. 
  • The nominating committee should assure the qualifications and responsibilities for nominees is clearly stated for the membership’s consideration. 
  • The association staff should be sure to remind the nominating committee of their responsibilities and the timing of the process several times throughout the year.  However, it is VERY important the staff be removed from the nomination process.  The staff should never be perceived as attempting to select future volunteer leaders for the association.
  • The nominating committee should consider several factors when evaluating potential nominees such as:
    • Experience in the industry or profession
    • Experience within the association
    • Level of commitment to the association and its mission
    • Is the nominee interested in the position for the good of the association or themselves
    • Is the nominee willing to listen to other opinions and work toward consensus
    • If being nominated for a director position, are they a potential future officer as well
    • Will the nominee work well with others but also be willing to offer their own opinion, even if it’s unpopular
  • Be sure the nominations are clearly published or communicated to whatever the electoral body is in advance of the election
  • Be sure whoever leads the actual election process (nominating committee chair, current president, etc.) is well versed on the process for the election and has information on how to handle curve balls that might be thrown such as nominations from the floor.  (We recommend you draft a script for the person leading the election process).  The script should include potential situations that can occur during the process and how to handle them. 

Above all, don’t let your nomination and election process become a “joke” where people who aren’t interested are nominated or elected because they “were out of the room”.  Building a culture where people want to be an association leader because of its value and importance to them personally, professionally and to the profession or industry they are serving is key to your association’s long-term success. 

Having a clear nomination and election process will help the process, but to build that culture can take time and takes committed leaders and staff. 

Good luck!

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I participate in many meetings – in fact, every day I am involved in one or more meetings of one kind or another. There are staff meetings, conference calls, webinars, committee and task force meetings, board meetings, conferences, trade shows, and more.

There is nothing more frustrating than unproductive meetings – they are a waste of everyone’s time – and time is a finite and very valuable resource.

Here are some tips I have for making meetings more productive. Let me know if you have any to share.

1. Publish an agenda (preferably a consent agenda) with meeting materials as much in advance of the meeting as possible.

2. Review all materials published for the meeting in advance of attending.

3. Be prepared to ask relevant and appropriate questions about the items being discussed.

4. Be respectful of all meeting participants, their opinions and their time.

5. Don’t interrupt people when they’re speaking AND don’t repeat what people have said when discussing an issue.

6.  If you are to report on the status of an issue, be prepared to report and answer questions that can be reasonably anticipated.

7.  If you are leading the meeting, make it clear to all participants at the beginning of the meeting what you hope to accomplish.

8.  If you are leading the meeting, be a facilitator – don’t insert your opinion on every issue, especially not before all others have expressed theirs.

9.  At the end of the meeting review the originally stated purpose and evaluate whether the purpose was acheived.

10.  Have fun!

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I spent last week at the Annual Meeting and tradeshow of one of our association partners.  The meeting and show were a success – despite the economy.

Honestly I was a little worried going into the meeting.  The leadership has been divisive recently and it was unclear going into the meetings whether they could overcome their challenges.  However, at the meeting the association leadership really started coming together.  They recognized the importance of working toward a common goal – the association’s mission.  Here are some of the reasons I think they are moving in the right direction together now:

1.  Leadership Training – we have offered one half day of leadership training twice a year for several years.  The training is never the same but is always focused on providing them the tools they need to be effective leaders.

2.  A Mission – the association has long had a mission statement.  We have focused the leaders on developing annual operating plans with the intent of moving them toward accomplishment of the mission.

3.  Cheerleading – every team needs to feel good about itself as a team and every person needs to feel good about themselves as a person.  We began cheerleading for the association and its leaders at this meeting and by the end of the meeting, many of the leaders were cheering for each other.

4.  Sharing – the leadership spent time getting to know each other personally at this meeting and shared commonalities and differences they have amongst each other.  This helped them remember each of them is an imperfect human being.

5.  Full Value Contract – this is a new idea one of our staff members found.  Essentially the group determined the behaviors they want to uphold as leaders of their industry trade association and agreed to create a “contract” which will be used to hold each other accountable to behaving appropriately.  Examples of the behaviors might be:  Treat people the way you would want to be treated; or Always listen to and consider others points of view.

These are just some examples of how we can get our teams working together toward a common goal.  What ideas can you add to the list?

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My job requires me to travel a lot.  I see many hotels all over the country.  I am loyal to certain hotel brands.

What makes me loyal to those brands?  It’s not the quality of the beds, its not the quality of their food or the size of their workout facilities.

Sure, those things can make a difference but if all else is equal, there is only one thing that makes me loyal to a hotel brand – the quality of the service I receive when I’m there.  Frankly, it all starts at registration.

When I register at a hotel, if the person behind the desk smiles, is courteous and friendly and shows they are interested in making my stay enjoyable and comfortable, I am much more likely to return to that hotel or one of its sister properties.  When they go that extra mile and ask probing questions to find out what my interests are and then offer suggestions to fulfill those interests, they create a customer for life.

Let me give you an example.  The other day I checked in to a hotel late at night.  My trip had been long and full of delays.  I was exhausted and ready to unpack and relax before my meetings started early the next morning.  I had to wait in line for several minutes before getting to the registration desk.  When arriving at the desk, I pulled out my drivers license and credit card as I always do and told them my name.  The registrar welcomed me to their hotel with a smile, looked me in the eye and called me by name.  While checking me in, instead of ignoring me, the registrar conversed with me – mostly asking me questions about where I was from, what brought me to their hotel, how long I had been traveling and when my meetings started.  After answering her questions, she quickly realized I hadn’t eaten all day and their restaurants were closed.  She could have easily told me where the most local restaurant was and put me in a cab.

Instead, realizing I was very tired and had an early meeting, she offered to call in an order for me from a local restaurant and went to pick it up and deliver it to my room.  Now, whenever I have the opportunity, I stay at that brand of hotels.

What makes you loyal to a brand?

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