Running a meeting in my opinion is one of the hardest things one can do. While there are many ways and styles that groups can use to run their meetings, there are also many effective and ineffective ways to do so. Throughout my experience in several organizations on campus and seeing the ups and downs in different strategies, it is very important to understand how vital meetings are in so many different aspects in the organization. These include culture, effectiveness and in execution, and communication between members.
Prior to this year and actually learning several theories of how to effectively lead in class, I had a tendency to overlook the effort members would put into meetings. This comes from not only meetings I have been in, but that I have also observed. After learning about the Relational Leadership Model, its many components became the lens through which I gauge the successes and effective practices that should be implemented in a meeting.
To echo the effort exerted by members, meetings have a huge influence on on the morale and culture of a group. The structure, length and even members present in a meeting directly correlate to both the morale and culture. I have personally observed and have participated in meetings that have had great discussions and help boost the spirits of members to empower them to do more. However, I have also been part of meetings that have been ineffective. This due to either members leaving, repetition or only a select amount of people speaking. Trust me, I am a big believer in accountability and members upholding their responsibilities when they took a role. But I also understand that members can lose interest. This loss of interest is contagious, and while it may not seem so, other members can easily pick up and show that energy back. It is important for those that help guide or facilitate the meetings to be cautious and ready to act on this. If several members are getting bored, it will most likely spread. To help combat this, definitely try to change the subject or be inclusive of those members. It may well be that they are not interested because they feel that they are not contributing. Make sure that every member feels invested and it contributing. This may be difficult to do depending on the size of your organization, but one suggestion may be to create committees that are smaller and more intimate for talking.
In addition to being inclusive, there must always be a purpose as to why you’re meeting. This is directly rooted into the vision an organization or group may have. I have seen dozens of meetings where it was nothing more than a room full of people. Not because they had issues to address and move the organization forward, but just because they HAD to meet. This is detrimental to both the organization and individual, for there is no progress if there is no purpose. Purpose helps guide and stimulate growth. Purpose must be rooted into the fabric of meetings, and members should always have a clear vision of their organizations’ goals. I can’t even begin to explain how many students don’t even know the mission statement or vision of their organization. They lack the “Why” and only know the “How” and “what”.
Meetings should also serve to empower member. It is in meetings that I have seen the most effective use of communication between different members with different roles. Despite them having different roles, they all share the same vision and work as a team to help fulfill that goal. Members should empower others to help them complete their own individual tasks and also to go up and beyond. Also if there is an executive board and general member structure, it is the setting of meetings that the executive board should use empowerment to show the importance and potential of lower-power members. The biggest notion I have observed is the fact that lower-power members who may have less responsibilities than executive board members feel like they are worth less. Without those members, the executive board would have no purpose. Empowering these general members to give it their all and help work towards the purpose of the organization is also an important goal for meetings in general.
Ethical is the structure that every meeting should be follow. Different organizations have different ethics. Even so, all members who are part of an organization should follow those ethics. When organizations can help enforce those ethics, it helps the organization stay cohesive and helps build the culture of the organization. It also holds members accountable for their actions.
In conclusion, there is a process that should be followed to have effective meetings. I personally use the Relational Leadership Models to not only help guide meetings when I need to, but also how to properly engage in one. Members need to be driven by a sense of inclusiveness and purpose. Keeping members empowered to achieve their goals while still upholding ethics will help the organization stay strongly together! Don’t ever overlook the importance meetings have, it can make or break an organization