Research shows that a great percentage of meetings are run poorly, resulting in huge losses of time and productivity. I believe that there are three main reasons that meetings continue to leave us wanting:
1) We underestimate the complexity of group thought.
2) Few of us are trained in meeting facilitation skills.
3) Boggled by group complexity and lacking requisite skills, we fall into dysfunctional patterns, failing to do anything to change meeting dynamics.
Given that there are eight times more participants than there are meeting leaders in your average group, targeting meeting leaders alone to improve meetings may be missing the mark.
What if we were to arm meeting participants with the basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes they could use to keep their groups on track and moving forward? The 12 Acts below were written to do just that, and to frame leadership as a quality anyone can exercise, no matter what their official position.
Act I: K-No-w It. Know what honors you and your time and to say “no” to everything else. Learn enough about the purpose of a meeting before it happens to make an educated decision around your potential contribution. This indirectly calls the meeting organizers to a higher level of clarity around their purpose—which is essential for the success of any meeting.
Act II: Ask for It. Get your agenda on the agenda. Get your personal and professional agenda added to the meeting agenda. Boldly asking for what you want provides the direction and energy that’s often lacking in meetings.
Act III: Prepare For It. Tap into your meeting genius by being thoroughly prepared. Knowing what and whom you need to know so that you are properly prepared for a meeting allows you to gracefully respond to challenges.
Act IV: Adjust Your Att-It-ude. Be curious, observant, and patient. The mindset from which you make interventions as a group member has a strong bearing on your success. Come from a place of curiosity when making suggestions and you will likely be heard. Be observant and patient to free yourself from judgments that limit your relationships, and to give others the chance to change.
Act V: Say It. Realize and express your truth in service to the group. For most of us, speaking out publicly is of our greatest fear. Getting clear about why you're afraid to speak, when it's time to speak, and how to do so makes expressing your truth much easier.
Act VI: Focus It. Focus your group on a common vision. Vigilantly challenge your groups to be clear on their objectives and to improve how they work together and you will set the stage for your group to actually get better over time.
Act VII: Park It. Keep your group on target by avoiding tangents. In a world ruled by distractions, it’s tough to avoid detours on the way to your objectives. A Parking Lot can help keep your group on course while respecting and capturing ideas outside the scope of the agenda.
Act VIII: Contain It. Contain group energy within operating norms. Effective groups need operating norms to establish healthy boundaries. Norms hedge against dysfunctional behavior that dilutes physical and emotional energy, while still offering participants the space to creatively pursue their objectives.
Act IX: Deliver It. Convert talk into action, decisions into deeds. One of the biggest complaints leveled against meetings is that, "Nothing ever happens!" Participants become disillusioned and tune out when this becomes the norm. Ask questions to encourage action in your groups.
Act X: In It, Not Of It. Avoid groupthink and access group mind—the way to enlightened decisions. The tendency to maintain harmony at all costs can harm your groups and the victims of your group’s decisions. Understand the symptoms and remedies of groupthink to stay connected to your group’s collective conscience.
Act XI: Facilitate It. Facilitate full participation. Fully participating group members support decisions made, offer access to the collective wisdom and experience of the group, and reduce the possibility of groupthink. As a participant, learn strategies to assure that full participation is achieved.
Act XII: It’s All Good. Transform conflict into a spirit of collaboration. Healthy conflict is an essential ingredient for group collaboration. Unhealthy conflict, that is conflict involving a winner and a loser, should be avoided. Adopt an attitude that any fight you engage in must be a fight to win--to a win that benefits all concerned.
These 12 Acts are thoroughly explained in my new book, This Meeting Sux…12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good. This book provides you with specific tools, strategies, language, and actions you can use as an empowered, facilitative participant to change your meetings and your life for good. Pick up the book, or the first three chapters for free at http://www.ThisMeetingSux.com.
Steve Davis, M.S., M.A. is the founder of FacilitatorU.com, a virtual university offering training, tools, and resources to group facilitators, trainers, consultants, coaches, and leaders. Steve consults with organizations and individuals and offers workshops, training, and coaching to enhance leadership and collaboration skills.
An eminent social psychologist offers insight into how goals work and the sources of self-defeating behaviors, and provides strategies for problem solving, achieving resiliency, and increasing willpower.
Just in time for New Year's resolutions, learn how to reach your goals-finally-by overcoming the many hurdles that have defeated you before.
Most of us have no idea why we fail to reach our goals. Now Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, an award-winning, rising star in the field of social psychology shows us how to overcome the hurdles that have defeated us before.
Dr. Grant Halvorson offers counterintuitive insights, illuminating stories, and science-based information that anyone can use immediately, including how to:
• Set a goal to pursue "even" in the face of adversity
• Build willpower, which can be strengthened like a muscle
• Avoid the kind of positive thinking that makes people fail
The strategies outlined in this book will not only help everyone reach their own goals but will also prove invaluable to parents, teachers, coaches, and employers. Dr. Grant Halvorson shows readers a new approach to problem solving that will change the way they approach their entire lives.
Even very smart, very accomplished people are very bad at understanding why they succeed or fail.
Whether you want to motivate your kids, your employees, or just yourself, "Succeed" unlocks the secrets of achievement, and shows you how to create new possibilities in every area of your life.
You can watch this video for a useful summary of some of the most relevant points Dr Halvorson makes:
About the author: Dr Heidi Grant Hulvorson is a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of motivation. She is the Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School, and author of the best-selling books: Succeed: How We Can All Reach Our Goals, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing The World for Success and Influence (co-written with E. Tory Higgins), and The 8 Motivational Challenges.
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Every successful person we know sets goals. But what's the secret behind of the power of goal setting they know but you don't know? This article reveals the 4 benefits that you may not have ever imagined.
Have you ever heard of any successful people, super achievers or elite performers who don't set goals at all?
Honestly I have not.
Goal setting is an important aspect in both your professional and personal lives. Without having goals to strive for, we won't be able to measure our success or achievements. We won't be able to spot our weaknesses and improve ourselves. We won't be able to target our strengths and fully unleash our potential.
While setting goals is crucial to getting what you want in life, what other amazing benefits do this simple act bring you that make all the successful people love?
#1 Control and Certainty
By regularly setting goals and achieving them you are taking control of your life.
This is an empowering mindset, attitude and behavior to have because you are acknowledging that life doesn't 'just happen to you'. There is a lot that is within your control when it comes to creating the ideal life you want and working towards the direction that's right for you.
#2 Optimism and Positivity
Apart from being certain about the future you're heading, setting goals and taking action to achieve them will influence you to have a more positive and optimistic outlook.
This vibe of positivity will help you build stronger mental resilience, which is essential to help you keep going when things become tough or when you got hit by challenges.
Instead of feeling down, depressed or defeated by the hardships, your resilience, optimism and mental toughness will ensure that you see the temporary setback as it is and pick yourself up using your personal power to find a creative way to overcome it.
Through goal setting you will have created a long-term plan for your life. In your mind, you've created a vision of what you want and worked out a way to get there.
This sense of purpose gives you a feeling of hope that you can achieve what you want. These are all positive emotions which have powerful effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.
Stress levels will be reduced, as will the likelihood of depression emerging. While you are working towards achieving your goals, you will increase your levels of focus and your ability to use it at will to help you get the results you want.
#4 Getting Into Flow State
The regular setting of meaningful goals ensures that you maximize opportunities to utilize the power of flow.
This miraculous flow state occurs when:
- you have a meaningful goal;
- position yourself away from external distractions;
- have all the necessary resources at hand;
- have matched the task to your abilities so that it contains enough challenge to keep you motivated and engaged but not too little so that you become bored; and
- immerse yourself in the task completely.
Getting into the flow state not only helps you achieve goals, but it also drastically elevates your productivity, relieves stress and increases happiness. The benefits of the flow state have been recorded by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Hungarian positive psychologist who wrote the famous book <Flow: The Psychology of Happiness>.
By having goals, you are increasing your chances of success. You are also taking positive steps to creating the life or business that you want.
While it seems to take a lot of effort setting goals at the beginning, the benefits you experience will far outweigh any time spent creating, monitoring and meeting them. If you desire to become a more productive, optimistic and proactive, then you should definitely follow what other successful people do - setting goals.
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In the movie "He's Just Not That Into You," Drew Barrymore has a dialogue to this effect: And now, you have to go through all this just to get rejected by seven different technologies - it is exhausting!
This reflects the time we live in. Information age - Age of Internet, emails, cell phones with ever-increasing features! Information Overload or Infomania has Dictionary definition: a continual and excessive quest for acquiring and disseminating knowledge and information.
As per Wikipedia: Infomania is the debilitating state of information overload, caused by the combination of a backlog of information to process (usually in email), and continuous interruptions from technologies like phones, instant messaging, and email.
On an average, how many sources for News do we use? Newspaper, Radio, TV, News web sites, Youtube, blogs, twitter, RSS feeds, the list goes on. most of the times, we get the same information from various sources. For communication, we use Email, Phone, IM, Text messages, Voicemail, Facebook, Myspace and so on. Not only that, we have multiple phones, email addresses and instant messengers.
Basex is a Research company for Knowledge economy issues and it has called "information overload" as the Problem of the year for 2008. Constant interruptions cost America around $650 billion dollars a year - that could have been the stimulus package!
One of the notions which comes out of all these technologies is that of multitasking. This is a typical office scenario. Any time there is a conference call, people get on the call, press mute button and start "multitasking". They may be replying to emails, reading other documents or even making a cup of coffee. When someone asks a question to a specific person, mostly the reply is: I am sorry, I was on mute. Could you please repeat the question? The phone has a mute button, we have discovered a 'deaf' button as well!
Another nuisance of emails at work is group emails. Someone sends out an email about a ball game to all employees at a site, for example. Thirty enthusiastic responders will 'Reply All' to say 'Count me In'. Five wise men will 'Reply All' to say please do not reply to all. And 4 geniuses will 'Reply All' to say 'Please remove my name from this chain'. You would have received 40 emails in matter of minutes. And if you have a beep or an envelope indicating 'You Have Got Mail', you would hate that feature and pull your hair.
There is a group called Information Overload Research Group and Nathan Zeldes from Intel is the chairman of the group. Nathan estimates "the impact of information overload on each knowledge worker at up to eight hours a week -- we loose one day out of 5!
On an average, a person gets 75 to 100 work emails a day, 50% of these are not relevant. We feel overwhelmed with where to look and what to do, how to find important information or tasks from the bulk - how to sort wheat from the chaff. Add to this the personal email pile -- spam, chain letters and recycled jokes, quotes and so on.
An example of home multitasking: TV is switched on with remote handy to flip channels, laptop is on lap, couple of IM windows are active, cell phone is right there.
Don't get me wrong. Each of these technologies has a great value to make our lives more effective and efficient. The email, chat, GPS, Internet, cell phone - these are all enablers. The fact that we can record a home video, review it on computer, send to family far away or upload on YouTube is really cool. The question is: How to deal with the issue of infomania?
First and foremost, take a stance and build some discipline:We are using the tools, not being used by them.
- Just because it is possible, you should not be reachable to everybody all the time.
- When you need to focus on something, turn off your cellphone, don't pay attention to incoming mails. In fact, incoming email indicator can be turned off forever.
- Allocate chunks of times for email checking and replying. Handle each piece of information minimum number of times.
- Politely decline meeting requests where you have nothing to gain or contribute.
- Do not take your computer or work email device during vacation.
- DO NOT subscribe to every news/blog/RSS feed service.
- And lastly, meditate to regain your focus.
To conclude, Information revolution and information overload is going to continue in 21st century. In order to leverage this revolution for better, we need to pick and choose. And, we need to ask ourselves at the end of the day. week, month -- Are we adding value to our lives and our world? Or, are we getting exhausted coping with the technology created by others?
Bina Mehta is an IT professional with over 18 years of experience. She holds PMP certification from Project Management Institute. She serves as President of FairOaks Toastmasters Club and has achieved Competent Communicator. Her interests include Reading, Writing, Problem Solving, Public Speaking, Yoga