Transform meetings with effective agendas

Transform meetings with effective agendas


What comes to mind when you think of your residence staff meetings? Poor planning, off track ramblings and a lot of wasted time? Staff can end up frustrated and disillusioned and a lot precious time is wasted.

You can transform your meetings by using these simple agenda ideas:

1.Seek input from the group.
If you want your supervisors to be engaged in meetings, make sure the agenda includes items that reflect their interests and needs. Ask supervisors to suggest agenda items along with a reason why each item needs to be addressed in a supervisors setting. If you decide not to include an item, be accountable and explain your reasoning to the supervisor who suggested it.

2.Select topics that affect the entire group.
Supervisors meeting time is valuable and difficult to schedule. It should mainly be used to discuss and make decisions on issues that affect the whole group of supervisors, and that need the whole group of supervisors to solve them.

3.List agenda topics as questions the group needs to answer.
Most agenda topics are simply several words strung together to form a phrase, for example: student room allocation. This leaves supervisors wondering, What about student room allocation? When you list a topic as a question to be answered, it instead reads like this: On what basis do we allocate student rooms?A question enables supervisors to better prepare for the discussion and to monitor whether comments are on track. During the meeting, anyone who thinks a comment is off-track can say something like, How does what you are saying relate to the question were trying to answer? Finally, the supervisors know that when the question has been answered, the discussion is complete.

4.Is the topic to share information, seek input for a decision, or make a decision?
Its difficult for supervisors to participate effectively if they dont know whether to simply listen, give their input, or be part of the decision making process. If people think they are involved in making a decision, but you simply want their input, everyone is likely to feel frustrated by the end of the conversation. Updates are better distributed and read prior to the meeting, using a brief part of the meeting to answer supervisors questions.

5.If the purpose is to make a decision, state the decision-making rule.
At the beginning of the agenda item the leader might say, If possible, I want us to make this decision by consensus.That means that everyone can support and implement the decision. Or it may be by a majority vote.

6.Estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic.
This serves two purposes. First, it requires you calculate how much time will be needed for introducing the topic, answering questions, generating potential solutions, and coming to a decision. Leaders usually underestimate the amount of time needed. If there are ten people in your meeting and you have allocated ten minutes to decide on what basis you will allocate student rooms, you have probably underestimated the time. The supervisors would have to reach a decision immediately after each of the ten has spoken for a minute. Second, the estimated time enables supervisors to either adapt their comments to fit within the allotted timeframe or to suggest that more time may be needed. The purpose of listing the time is not to stop discussion when the time has elapsed; that simply contributes to poor decision-making and frustration. The purpose is to get better at allocating
enough time for the supervisors to effectively and efficiently answer the questions.

7.Propose a process for addressing each agenda item.
The process identifies the steps through which you will move to complete the discussion or make a decision. Agreeing on a process significantly increases meeting effectiveness. The process for addressing an item should appear on the written agenda, e.g. 10 minutes to get all the relevant information, another 10 minutes to discuss, and finally, well use about 15 minutes to agree on a solution.

8.Specify how supervisors should prepare for the meeting.
Distribute the agenda with sufficient time before the meeting, so the supervisors can read background material and prepare their initial thoughts for each agenda item ahead of time.

9.Identify who is responsible for leading each topic.
Someone other than the head of boarding is often responsible for leading the discussion of a particular agenda item. This person may be providing context for the topic, explaining data, or may have organizational responsibility for that area. Identifying this person next to the agenda item ensures that anyone who is responsible for leading part of the agenda knows it, and prepares for it before the meeting.

10.Make the first topic review and modify agenda as needed.
Even if you and the supervisors have jointly developed the agenda before the meeting, take a minute to see if anything needs to be changed due to changing events. By checking at the beginning of the meeting, you increase the chance that the supervisors will use the meeting time most effectively.

11.End the meeting with a question.
When supervisors meet regularly, two questions can form a simple continuous improvement process: What did we do well? What do we want to do differently for the next meeting?

12.Clarify the next meeting date, time and place.
Check the calendar for any break in regular routine. Individuals should also check their personal diary. This will save a lot of time later if there is a clash in schedules.

Adapted from a web paper




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