Here are a couple of meeting management tips I used in some of my past coaching sessions for leadership teams. Unusual… Unorthodox… Crazy… Call them what you will. They get the job done, especially when you use them as coaching opportunities
Meeting Management Tactic: Controlling Access
In this session with a client in the Ohio area, I was reviewing sales leadership practices with the organization’s management team.
There were 12 people initially in the room for the upper leadership meeting. After we wrapped up the 30-minute session, I had someone open the doors to let the rest of the management team in. I waited for 10 minutes to give people time to network, share ideas, and just conduct small talk among themselves. Then I said, “OK. We’re gonna start in about 5 minutes, so finish up.”
I took the 5 minutes to hop on down to the restroom and freshen up. As I made my way back to the conference room, I deliberately timed it so that I arrived at the door just seconds before my 5-minute timer went off.
Then I did something I’ve done many times in meetings with my own team. It lets people know that meeting time is everybody’s time. I stepped in, closed the door and locked it behind me. Anyone not in the room after that point had to knock and wait for us to let them in.
While this may seem harsh, it is not a new meeting management concept. Think about the last time you went to a high-end live performance, a play on Broadway perhaps. If you arrived late, did you just walk in and sit down in the middle of the performance? Or did the usher hold you at the entry and wait for an appropriate break to minimize disturbing other patrons?
Locking the door sends a message to your team: Meeting time is everyone’s time. So be on time.
Meeting Management Tactic: Limiting Disruptions
Immediately after the door close, we got to it. I began the session by reviewing the house rules. One of those rules dealt with disturbances coming from everyone’s personal hand toys, the smartphone. If smartphone buzzed, the price was one dollar. If we caught someone thumbing through emails, the price was five bucks! And everyone selected one individual, someone everyone trusted in the group, to be the banker.
Later, near the end of the session, we’d typically have a contest where the spoils of the bank were the contest prize.
Again, this is not a new idea. But here’s where I added a little spice to the mix. I reached into my wallet, pulled out a $5 bill, and handed it to the banker. I then said, “I don’t plan on creating any interruptions. But if I can put up 5 bucks before we start this meeting, I think everyone can ‘man up and put up’ if they create an interruption. Agreed?”
At that point, everyone nodded in agreement, turned off their smartphones, put them away, and we got down to business.
It was harsh, but nobody’s smartphone disrupted the meeting, and we had everyone’s attention.
Control Your Meeting by Controlling Your Team
Charging people for buzzing smartphones and locking the doors after the posted start time isn’t for all of your meetings. However, if you have people regularly strolling in 10 minutes late, try locking the door for a few meetings. Encourage those chronically late members to make it on time. Let everyone know that you are serious about not wasting everyone’s time.
Here’s an idea to keep in mind. When you are leading a meeting, you’ll often have to come up with creative methods to control the flow and keep it on track. But remember, your meeting consists of a group of individuals. They are there to solve a problem or share information.
So lead the meeting by leading your people. And leaders lead by example.