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Sharing Meeting Running Responsibilities
January 29, 2013 - 9:00pm

This is how I used to work. During the weekly meeting with my team I'd create an agenda (shared by e-mail ahead of time when possible), attaching time estimates to each point, and move the discussion down the agenda. I'd be sure to include everyone in the discussion, listen more than I spoke, start and end the meeting on time. 

We'd have action items going forward, and be sure to review and resolve action items from last week. I'd take meeting notes, and send them to all team members.

I actually thought I was pretty good at running meetings.

But like many things in life, my meeting management procedures came with a significant blind spot.

The problem was that I was running all the meetings.

This particular blind spot was pointed out to me by my colleague David. His method for sharing this insight was of respectful and collegial, delivered with his usual low-key and friendly manner, but his point was immediately clear.   

What we do now is take turns. Each of us takes the lead in running our team meetings, with a new colleague running our meeting each week.

The advantages:

Learning: Team members will have different methods of managing discussions. We can all learn from each others methods.

Modeling: Our meeting methodology is not a free-for-all. We stick to a basic format and a shared methodology. My hope is that I can model some good meeting practices, but my methods are only a starting place for our team.

Professional Development: Managing discussions and coordinating meetings is an important skill. How many meetings do you attend without a clear agenda, good time management, and clear outcomes and next steps?  Having everyone practice running meetings in our small, tight and supportive team provides great practice for running meetings in other settings.

Feedback Opportunities:  We can give each other immediate feedback on what is working and what is not in our meeting methods and style. I highly encourage discussion around process, and I try to give immediate, actionable and critical feedback on how I think the meetings are going.

Collegiality: Hierarchy is mostly counterproductive in knowledge work. The quality of ideas and the energy of one's contributions are not correlated with title. My job is to try to get my team the resources and time they need to do their jobs, as my policy is to hire people smarter than I am. If you believe in that approach then it is important to follow through in how you work with your team. Saying that you look at team members as colleagues and then running all the meetings is not consistent.   

How has your thinking about team meetings changed?


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