Yay! Another meeting – said no one, ever!

I have tried to avoid meetings as much as possible all my life. This thinking of mine stems from an article I once read from a 1939 copy of The Harvard Business Review that stated: if you have more than two meetings a month, you will go out of business.

Likely an unpopular sentiment in those days, and yet, in more modern settings, I have seen the elimination of meetings work wonders for companies.

Deep-six the roundtable discussions
All the companies I have been involved with were encouraged to eliminate 10 to 20 percent of their monthly meetings on an ongoing basis.

Of the many large corporations where I was hired as a trainer and facilitator, two come to mind; an insurance company and a credit card company. Both had reduced the amount and length of meetings. One company’s reports claimed over 200,000 dollars of staff time was freed up – just by eliminating meetings – thereby giving employees time to be more productive.

Send a memo instead
I believe the bulk of meetings can be handled by sending a document to all parties involved and asking them to send back comments in a timely manner. If a meeting is needed the same process is followed:

“Here is the issue we need to be resolved, as outlined in the attached document. Please return your comments by (Insert defined time) and be prepared to discuss them in a short meeting. It starts at (defined time and date); we will spend 15 minutes on this.

The bulk of meetings can be handled by sending a document to all parties involved and asking them to send back comments in a timely manner.

Meeting musts
When it comes to having a meeting, here are some must-dos:

  • Set a clear objective to the meeting. Don’t be vague. Set an agenda and make sure all the participants agree to the agenda. If it needs to be adjusted, then do so.
  • Invite only those people who need to be there. The worst thing is calling people into a meeting only to have them wonder “why am I even here?”
  • Set strict guidelines for who speaks and the duration. By keeping everyone “on the clock,” this helps to reign in the dominant talkers who tend to take over and prevent everyone from contributing.
  • Remember that time is money. A meeting should start on time and end on time. A rule of thumb I have always followed is that when a meeting starts no one is allowed in after the starting time. Late starts and stragglers send the message that the meeting is not important.

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.”
― Dave Barry

How understanding these hidden elements could be the key to effective communication

Tanja Heffner at Unsplash

When it comes to effective communication, speaker and listener both share equally in the responsibility of communicating. Communication is a two-way process that involves both how we send and receive messages.

Improving communication starts by understanding that our personal filters determine how we package a message (the information we send out), and, conversely, how others receive or decode the intended message. As soon as we are cognizant of how we filter and distort the information we receive, we are better able to take responsibility for listening more effectively.

Subliminal messaging?
From the time we’re born, we learn to communicate. Most of us think of communication as consisting of the words we use, but the truth is that only seven per cent of what we communicate to others is made up of the actual words we use; in fact, a whopping 55 per cent of what we communicate is non-verbal (body language, eye contact). The remaining 38 percent is vocal, which includes things like pitch, speed, volume, and tone of voice.

Despite this, we often consider ourselves effective communicators if we are eloquent speakers, focusing consciously on the initial seven percent – leaving the remaining bulk of our communications to our unconscious minds.

Only seven percent of what we communicate to others is made up of the actual words we use.

Getting the message across
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.” Each of us has a complex set of perceptual filters that we use to sort through information. These can also act as barriers to communication. These filters include:

Emotion: a listener’s emotional state will dictate their reaction to, or willingness to accept information.
Culture: a person’s origins or upbringing can have a huge influence on how a message is received; for example, it could be that their native language may not contain similar words or concepts.
Situational Context: environmental factors – including how the message is delivered – can have an impact on how a message is perceived. Temperature, noise, (dis)comfort can all detract from a message.

Personal Beliefs: these are the world map of how we listen, perceive, and interpret information.
Keeping these filters in mind enables responsible communication – carefully-chosen words can transcend the above filters, and it is at this point where effective communication is achieved.

 

Funding Sources

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( I was asked today to repost this article – enjoy!!! )

A couple of years back I was at an ONEIA breakfast where KPMG and IRAP made terrific presentations. The focus was on SR&ED and IRAP funding.

All of you probably know about The OMDC but in case you didn’t, follow the links above for some interesting information.

In addition here is a great resource – The Funding Portal. And their Blog! Enjoy !!!

 

Sun Tzu’s legendary Principles of War – Applied to Business

 

When you think of Sun Tzu and the Art of War, what comes to mind? Do you think 6th-century warriors, battlefields and an epic battle between good and evil? No? Well, good. Despite its rather grim title, the legendary tome addresses and outlines the appropriate strategies for battle – on the field and of the mind – in short, how to win the battle of wits. Author Pete Mosley takes some of the great tactician’s Principles and breaks them down into present-day work/life hacks.

The Master Principle
The selection and maintenance of the aim. This means that first of all you are to establish clearly what your objective is to be. Once this has been determined precisely you should not allow yourself to deviate from the plan of action you have made.
Tl;dr: Focus on your goals.

Maintenance of Morale
To achieve your aim, you will require high morale from your peers, hence look after them and their interests. With good morale, you will create the will to achieve your aim. Good morale can be hard to create and can be even harder to maintain so take it into consideration when planning.
TL;dr: Keep your head up, and your eyes on the prize.

Offensive Action
Move forward. Be bold and confident. Tread where others have not. Be one step ahead of your enemy (the competition). Never become complacent.
Tl;dr: Blaze your own trail.

Surprise
Do the unexpected. Come up with a new and well thought out plan. Avoid doing “the same old thing.” Ensure that your competitors have no idea as to what you are doing or planning.
Keep’em guessing.

Security
Keep it to yourself. Use the need to know the rule. If someone does not need, they do not have to know. Why lose the element of surprise?
Hold your cards close to your chest.

Concentration of Force
Use your resources carefully and at the right time. One good presentation is better than many poor ones.
Haste makes waste.

Economy of Force
do not burn yourself and your resources out. Try to keep an ace up your sleeve. Do not use a sledgehammer when a gentle tap will do just as well.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Flexibility
So what if the original “Master Plan” does not work or has a temporary set-back. Find an alternative. Maintain morale throughout. If you look hard enough you will find another method to achieve the aim.
Tl;dr: If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Co-operation
Do not do everything yourself. Employ the skills of others and let them use your skills. Help others and be willing to be helped.
There is no “I” in team.

All of the above will require sound administration to work; should you become a casualty your peers can take over and achieve your aim for you. In other words:

It doesn’t hurt to have friends in high places.

You shoot, you score! Why you should make goal setting a priority!

I strongly believe you can’t manage people, you can only manage their commitments. One way to do this – for yourself or others – is by goal setting.

According to businessdictionary.com, goal setting is “a motivational technique based on the concept that the practice of setting specific goals enhances performance, and that setting difficult goals results in higher performance than setting easier goals.”

So, what’s the easiest way to set goals for yourself?

Put it in writing

Everyone should write down their personal goals. ”Goals propel you forward,” say the good folks at keepinspiring.me. “Having a goal written down with a set date for accomplishment gives you something to plan and work for. A written goal is an external representation of your inner desires; its a constant reminder of what you need to accomplish.”

Whether working for yourself or others, setting goals can then be incorporated into an action plan to achieve the short and long-range objectives. The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve by a particular time.

SMART Goals

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve; make sure that you also remain true to yourself.

A program of tracking and charting progress be developed to assure personal scorekeeping. Mindtools.com suggests using the SMART method as a way of making your goals more powerful:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Trackable

Mind tools.com also suggests that instead of having “earn my first commission” as a goal, it’s more powerful to use the SMART technique to make the goal more concrete. “To have completed my first client sale of $250 or more by December 31, 2015.” Simple as this tweak may be, the entire SMART method is covered in just one statement.

Put them to good use

Tracking and charting is most effective when developed with the input and commitment of the users and the results are used for appropriate recognition and correction. In a team environment, for example, if someone misses their target, their written commitment shouldn’t be used as a toll for belittling or berating them.

A written goal is an external representation of your inner desires; its a constant reminder of what you need to accomplish.

There are many other benefits to tracking and charting goals, which include

  1. Identification of quality and effectiveness standards
  2. Establishing expectations
  3. Generating feedback
  4. Avoiding problems
  5. Providing information

In a team setting, when paired with solid management can deliver growth, productive teams and help foster a feeling of collaboration. When used on a personal level, not only will growth be a positive outcome, but also a clarity of vision and perhaps the chance at a much more diverse and rewarding career.

 

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