All I Really Need to Know About Meetings I Learned in Kindergarten

posted by Sean Poston on Friday, August 25, 2017 in Office Equipment Blog

The end of an exceptionally beautiful Iowa summer is swiftly approaching. In our home, both kids have begun to bemoan the end of mornings spent playing with their cousins, and afternoons in the pool. As much as they do not want summer to end, they are equally excited to go back to school.

Our oldest will be in second grade, so we are still relatively new to parenting. New enough that I regularly find myself in awe of how rapidly they learn and how eager they are to share those lessons with me. It is in those exchanges, I have been reminded that kindergarten is not just rote learning—it offers nuggets of wisdom that can stay with us into adult life.

Regrettably, the clarity of kindergarten wisdom can be obscured by the busyness of adult life. As happens with many organizations, the GreatAmerica team developed some collective bad habits. Meetings frequently ran long, which had a cascading effect on both the attendees in the meeting and those waiting for the room. Agendas were commonly absent, so attendees would show up unprepared and unaware of the facilitator’s expectations. Perhaps the most frustrating of all, because so many meetings were scheduled back-to-back with no passing time between, attendees often arrived late.

Many organizations struggle with meetings. To address our shortfalls, GreatAmerica has recently launched an awareness campaign summarized in the abbreviation “ROI”. If your meetings are not as effective as you would like, your organization might benefit from these guidelines as well.

Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Participate

The administration and faculty at our daughter’s school expect all students to observe the “Three Rs”:  Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Learn. That is a great attitude to have for learning – and meetings as well!

Approach meetings with the right attitude:

  • Thoughtfully send and accept meeting invitations
  • Ensure coverage in order to provide a great experience for customers
  • Stay on task
  • Be engaged & participate
  • Minimize distractions

On Time is Late!

A colleague recently accompanied her son’s band on a performance tour through Europe. Throughout the trip, the band director constantly quipped, “on time is late!” Trains leave according the schedule, not when the people with tickets are good and ready.

Time is a currency, spend it wisely: 

  • Arrive 5 minutes early
  • Have the technology ready to go
  • Start on time, regardless of who is missing
  • Finish & leave 5 – 10 minutes early to give everyone passing time

Invest in Preparation and Follow Through

Last spring, my daughter was thrilled to have daddy come to school and eat with her. During our lunch date, I noticed a sign posted in the cafeteria:  “You are free to make choices, but you are not free from the consequences of those choices.”

Great meetings happen when facilitators and attendees make the right investments: 

  • Know your goal for the meeting
  • Share the agenda well in advance
  • Do your homework prior to the meeting
  • Reserve time for recap and action items

Building good habits is a critical success factor in kindergarten and the business world, but bad habits need not be permanent. GreatAmerica is reshaping our meeting culture. I hope these guidelines can help your organization improve your meeting ROI as well!




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About The Author

Sean Poston is a Director within the at GreatAmerica Financial Services IT department. He is responsible for ensuring the IT team delivers the GreatAmerica Experience when resolving technology related challenges. The Poston family pursues a wide range of passions including youth soccer, faith-based volunteering, running, biking, and tae kwon do. Sean has a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa.

  1. best practice
  2. productivity
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