Meetings: the recipe for success

Over time, many people have become familiar with our motto: together we make it simple. But it’s more than just a motto, it really is the way we go about our work. Working together well means we achieve more and make things both simpler and better. And this process starts with discussions. 

Discussion takes place in all kinds of forms but of course it is also carried out in that somewhat charged - or, if you will, mature - form that is the meeting. Just like all over the Netherlands, a lot of meetings are held both at Vasco and at the companies we work at and for. Many people feel meetings are boring, pointless and a waste of time. I regularly host training sessions for Vasco in which the response to my question ‘Who here feels that meetings are stopping you from doing any work?’ is nearly always that all attendees raise their hand. Putting it mildly, meetings are unpopular. However, you can’t imagine an organisation that doesn’t hold meetings every day. And this is a good thing, because meetings are the basis for decision-making and a very effective way of working together. With a clearly-defined goal before us, we work with the right people at the right tempo towards an achievable result. When meetings are effective, it can actually save us a huge amount of time. It is important here that everyone attending the meeting knows what his or her role in it will be and knows how to make the meeting a success.

If we look at meetings, there are four important roles to distinguish between: 1) the initiator, 2) the attendee, 3) the meeting’s chair and 4) the secretary. A checklist must be drawn up for each role. If you can tick all the boxes for each role then you are well on the way to having an effective meeting. However, it may be that despite all the ticks on your checklist, there is no benefit to the organisation itself: you have all given good meeting but the results aren’t discernible anywhere. Well, you now need to think about how decisions are taken within the organisations. Can employees demonstrate sufficient ownership, and has an adequate mandate been given in order to achieve the desired result? What we are talking about here is the organisation’s culture and structure. Consider for instance the project sponsor who is inadequately empowered, forcing him to first get any decision approved by his superior, or a works council that plays too dominant a role: the results of a meeting could then be undone unintentionally. So it’s a good idea to remember that a meeting is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The formula for achieving good results is to combine effective meetings with a fully-fledged follow-up process. So the answer is: ensuring the proper organisation of both your meeting and your company. My minutes couldn’t put it any more clearly than that.

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