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Online Newsletter for Call Center Personnel
Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D. Editor and Publisher
Volume XXV, Issue 5

Date: May 1, 2016 - THE RIGHT WAY TO END A MEETING*

Dear Subscriber,

Great points follows:

A common complaint among managers is that the conversations they have with employees aren’t producing results: “We keep talking about the same issue over and over, but nothing seems to ever happen!” That’s because most managers are missing a vital skill: the ability to deliberately close a conversation. If you end a conversation well, it will improve each and every interaction you have, ultimately creating impact.

Meetings are really just a series of conversations — an opportunity to clarify issues, set direction, sharpen focus, and move objectives forward. To maximize their impact, you need to actively design the conversation. While the overall approach is straightforward – and may seem like basic stuff — not enough managers are actually doing this in practice:

·        Set up each conversation so everyone knows the intended outcomes and how to participate.

·        Manage the conversation rigorously so the discussion stays on track and everyone is engaged.

·        Close the conversation to ensure alignment, clarity on next steps, and awareness for the value created.

In my 35 years of experience as a corporate trainer, I’ve found that closure is more often than not the missing link between meetings and impact. Without it, things can be left unsaid, unchallenged, unclear, and/or uncommitted. Each agenda item should be considered incomplete unless it is wrapped up in a thoughtful, deliberate way.

I recently worked with a university president who requested that I come in to help with some leadership training. When I asked why the training was needed, he told me how he had been working with a group of faculty members who were trying to restart a journalism school that had been disbanded many years before due to budget cuts. In the initial meeting, the president promised he would do everything he could to support their efforts.

YOU AND YOUR TEAM

But now, two years after convening and chartering the group, no visible progress had been made. The president felt it was because of a leadership gap, but I offered a different perspective. I told him, “You don’t have a journalism school because you didn’t close that first meeting properly, and you didn’t follow up. If you had wrapped up that first meeting more thoroughly and then met with that group every two weeks, you would probably have what you wanted today.” It really is that simple.

To deliberately close a conversation, consider these 5 essential tasks:

Check for completion: If you move to the next topic too quickly, people will either cycle back to the current topic later or they will leave the meeting unclear or misaligned. You should ask: “Is there anything else someone needs to say or ask before we change topics or adjourn the meeting?” If the university president had asked this question and waited patiently, lingering concerns or questions might have arisen and been dealt with right off the bat.

Check for alignment: If someone can’t live with the decisions being made in the meeting, or the potential outcome of those decisions, you need to ask that person what it would take to get him or her on board. People prefer to be united with the group, and if they aren’t, there’s a reason behind it that needs to be surfaced. Asking the question, “Is everyone OK with where we ended up?” will surface questions or concerns so they can be resolved as soon as possible.

Agree on next steps: Getting firm, clear commitments is the primary way to ensure progress between meetings. In order for a conversation to lead to action, specific commitments must be made. Progress depends on clearly stating what you will do by when and asking others to do the same. To maintain the momentum of any project, nail down specific commitments and deadlines, and then follow up often. The question here is: “What exactly will we do by our next meeting to ensure progress?” In the example of the journalism school, nothing happened because there was never an action plan agreed upon with next steps, firm timelines, and individual responsibilities clearly defined.

Reflect on the value of what you accomplished: This is one of the most powerful acknowledgment and appreciation tools. People rarely state the value created by a conversation, and therefore lose a wonderful opportunity to validate both the conversation and the individuals in it. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re the university president from the example above, listening to several faculty presentations for the new journalism school. After the first presentation, you say, “That was good.” What if, instead, you said: “Let me tell you the five things I’m taking away from your presentation.” Which do you think has more impact?

Check for acknowledgements: Did anyone contribute to the conversation in a way that needs to be highlighted? While you don’t want to use acknowledgement and appreciation so frequently that it becomes a commodity with no value, at times someone’s questions or remarks do help provide the tipping point that turns an ordinary conversation into and extraordinary one – and that’s worth acknowledging.

Imagine the impact if the university president had taken the time to use these last two elements – sharing the value he was taking away from the meeting and acknowledging a few of the participants. Doing so would have reinforced the conversations that occurred, supported the people in the meeting, and encouraged everyone’s desire to produce the expected results.

As a manager, you should consider improving your meeting skills to be a top priority. Not only will it make you a more respected leader, but your staff members will become more engaged participants, as well. Try spending the next three weeks working on closing every conversation in a deliberate, thoughtful way. You’ll be surprised to see an immediate impact on how and when things get done.

                    

Regards,

Rosanne D’Ausilio

Rosanne D’Ausilio, Ph.D.
President – Human Technologies Global Inc
3405 Morgan Drive – Carmel, NY 10512
845/520-6432 fax 928/223-6165

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*https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-right-way-to-end-a-meeting