Business and Group Meetings

(A Better Understanding)

Written by: Wajahat Hussain BBA (Hon’s) Marketing Session 2006-2010 The Islamia University of Bahawalpur

Business and Group Meetings
If communication is lifeblood of any organization, then meetings are the Heart and Mind. The place where we communicate our ideas, hash them out, share our passion for better or worse, a place where we develop new understanding and new directions. It is where deals can happen or fall apart, where strategies are articulated and debated – in short- a place where we engage with others.

Almost every organization/business, whether it has only two employees or two
thousand, has meeting as a regular part of getting things done. Although employees can communicate with one another in an organization in many different ways, meeting ----- if they are conducted in the right way --------- can be incredibly effective and efficient. Meetings are not only one of the most important ways for employees to communicate within the organization, but they are also the way that teams get their work done. In short, for organizations, meetings are an important vehicle for human communication.

Group Meeting:
Group meeting occurs when two or more people come together for the purpose of discussing a predetermined topic such as business or community event planning, often in a formal setting.

General Guidelines:
There are three main things which are very important about meeting. 1. Decide if a meeting is necessary and if so, what should it be-------2. Distribute the workload among members have multiple team members help run meetings. This has dual benefit of distributing the workload, helping members how to effectively participate in group. 3. Meeting has three phases and members need to prepare for each. • • • Pre meeting During the meeting Follow-up after the meeting

Purpose of Group Meetings:
Group meeting is needed to run business effectively and to earn more profit. 1. Information giving and seeking. 2. Introducing new ideas. 3. Problem-solving and Decision – making. 4. Exchange information. 5. Develop work skills and leadership.

Types of Meetings:
There are two major types of meetings. 1. Informal group meetings. 2. Formal group meetings.

1) Informal Group Meetings:
Casual and informal meetings are common. In this, people meet to socialize, to interact --- often spontaneously, without plan.

2) Formal Group Meetings:
Often called task oriented meetings – usually for a course of action and search for the answers to problems.

Other Types Of Meetings: 1) Informational Meetings:
Informational meetings seek only to clarify, to make something clear, and to give information.

Types of Informational Meetings:
Informational meetings are also classified into two types: 1) Information Giving: These meetings involve: • • • Provide information. Discussion and exchange of information. Comments from participants.

2) Information Seeking and Information Exchange: These meetings involve: • • • Exchange and gather opinions, facts, or information. Full, open discussion. Question-------- what shall we, how can we?

2) Problem Solving:
These Meetings Involve: • • Discuss and explore problem. Action plans are develop.

3) Planning:
These meetings involve • • • Decide what will do and who will do it. Responsibilities and tasks are distributed. Action plans are developed.

Steps To Have A Great Business And Group Meeting:
1. Preparation 2. During the meeting 3. Behavior to avoid

1) Preparation:
 Give an appropriate notice to those who involved.  Identify a purpose for the meeting.  Distribute AGENDA before the meeting. o Call to order o Announcement  Establish start, stop and break times.  Set deadlines for follow – up actions.

2) During the Meeting:
Start Promptly: Begin the meeting with a neutral opening statement. Stimulate Discussion: Involving all members in discussion and ask questions to keep the discussion moving and keep participants on the main path. Minutes of Meeting: Assign someone to take notes and write the minutes of the meeting. Model: Use an appropriate discussion model.

Interpretation: After giving all options to the group, interpret data for the solution. It is time to evaluate. State Major Conclusion: Summarize your meeting and ensure that all members know their responsibilities. End on time. The meeting should be completed with in the specified time.

3) Behaviors To Be Avoid:
• • • • Hold unnecessary meetings Invite everyone Let people dominate the discussion. Allow discussion to wonder from the topic.

Solving Problems in Meetings or Groups
Because the problem-solving meeting requires the most careful planning and supervision by the leader and rational discussion by the participants, the remainder will focuses on the problem solving meeting. You can of course, use most of the suggestions for all types of meetings.

Authorization for a Committee:
You may be asked to form a committee to solve a specific problem. Tat letter or memorandum of authorization may come from your superior, or even at the level of the secretly of the board. Regardless of the source, that note should include who, what, when, where, and why as good cornerstone questions to answer.

Methods of Solving Problem in Meetings:Just how do you solve a problem in a group? Some of you may use intuition (rapid insight into a problem), rationalization (justification of solution over time) or scientific, reflective thinking (logical progression) to arrive at an answer. We favor this last approach, the one used most often in business. Four steps are involved in problem solving meetings: background analysis, solution discovery, solution evaluation, and choice of action.

1) Background Analysis:
You sense a problem; you feel something is wrong; you hear contradictory stories; you know something is not going well. Welcome to frustration. You know can solve the problem alone, or you can assemble a group. There are three recommended steps. 1) State the Problem or Question in an Affirmative Tone:Affirmatively stating the central issue is more affective than stating the issue in the negative. Negative Wording: How not the handle personnel dismissal? Which kinds of related businesses should we avoid? Proffered Affirmative Wording: What should be our procedure in dismissing personnel from their positions? In which related businesses should us conceder expansion?

2) Define and Limit the Problem:Each of the above affirmative questions requires some definitions. This information is usually included in the authorization memorandum or the initial stages of a group meeting. By personnel we mean only those employees in job qualifications 12-17. By related businesses we means only core competencies, i.e. those have at least 50% relationship to our manufacturing process. By foreign maids we mean only those women from the Philippines who have been in Asia since 1990. 3) Collect Facts on the History of the Problem:Several questions, and others, relate to the initial data.  How long has the problem existed?  Describe the symptoms of the problem.  Can we tentatively guess at possible causes and effects of the problem?  How do the other companies handle the problem? Your thoughtful examination of background material will have helped prepare you for the role of discussant or leader of the meeting. And, if you have prepared written background for the material for the group, it will serve as backup to formation to prepare for the next stage: solution discovery.

2) Solution Discovery:
1) Establish Criteria:Ask yourself: What are some of the frequently used criteria applied in the problem-solution meetings? If you answered fairness, workability, acceptability, positive consequences, favorable costs, number of people impacted, and return on investment, you will be among the majority. Apply some of the above criteria to the following issue: “In view of our high energy costs, what should be the policy of our company regarding alternative sources of energy?” Your group might set up criteria for assessing solutions to issues as follows:

 The solution must be acceptable to the Environmental Protection Agency and the company.  The solution should have little impact on earnings per share.  The supply of energy must be adequate (favorable) to cover energy needs into the next century. Unless there is consistency in applying criteria, each participant will assess solutions using there own criteria. But note: some criteria may during at meeting and attach different weights to those criteria.

2) List Possible Solutions: During a meeting you as a new graduate may offer a solution that you feel have been logically thought out, based on time and research, and then firmly insist that the problem can be solved only in this way. It is a rude introduction to the business world when others suggest that your solution has little merit. Hence, the thoughtful chairperson and participants should consider several alternative solutions, perhaps ranging from practical to the highly innovative. A good technique at this point is the problem-solving process is simply to list alternatives. Brainstorming – a process of listing as many ideas as possible without judgment of any group member – is a favored method. Here persons, interested in solving a problem, offer ideas in a freewheeling atmosphere. No criticisms are allowed, even for off-the-wall solutions. After everyone has had a chance to voice suggestions, the list is shortened usually in light of stated criteria. Several good ideas may thus arise, and later serve as a list from which may come the final solution. What list of solutions, for example, would you purpose for the question “What should be the company policy on the drugs in workplace?” A shortened lists of possible solutions from one company looked liked this:

 During recruitment let candidates sign release forms for drug testing.  Managers should orally and in writing communicate this message: will be fired if caught using drugs on the job.  External drug rehabilitation programs will be used for those using drugs.  “No drugs in workplace” should be posted throughout the company.  An employee assistance program (EAP) is the central goal in the war against drugs.  Drugs testing must be used in conjunction with other means of employee assistance. Employees

3) Solution Evaluation:
The preceding step was simply formulating a list of tentative suggestions on solving a problem. Now you must evaluate all suggestion in light of your stated criteria. In other words, you being testing, locating pro and con reasons about a solution, answering whether a preferred solution truly will solve a problem or create new ones. As you work through the process in a discussion, you may end with selecting one of your tentative proposals, create an entirely new solution, or combine parts of several solutions. Your responsibility is this: You should arrive at solution during this evaluation phase. A series of questions can serve as hint to what you could be asking, for example, on this problem: “what health programs will best meet the needs of our workers?”  What will be the consequences of adopting the tentative solutions?  Will any of the solutions introduce new dangers of or new problems?  Will all the causes of the problem be removed?  How does each of solutions meet the criteria established for judgment of solutions?  What effects will the have on the future?  Has the solution proved workable at another company or a similar situation?

 Is there a professional organization or a person held in high regard in support of one of the options? In each of us are hidden reasons why we a support or do not support a proposed solution. Rational persons try to apply a reasoned approach to problem solving meeting. Consensus, or formal vote, then determines the solution to be accepted. With the solution accepted, you still have one more thing to decide.

4) Choice of Action:
A favorite question of senior management receiving a recommendation from a committee is this: What costs are involved? That question, along with a time schedule, is basic to any group recommendation. The following example was part of an action marketing plan for placing ads into catalog sent to consumers in theirs homes.

Marketing Budget for First Year
Our marketing recommendation for new product Diet Lite has been prepared for introduction on September 1, 1999. Annual marketing plan Packaging Revised product sheets Advertising design Co-op advertisement plan Media planning and placement 360,000 25,000 35,000 35,000 60,000 205,000

Personal Involved
Media Director Graphic Arts Department Administration The document was designed by the vice president for Media Relation. Thus, problem solving will be the major reason for business group meetings. And while some meetings will not precisely follow the three main divisions noted above, all do begin with some kind of opening analysis, spend considerable time reviewing options, and end with recommendation for action. Getting to the final stage is sometime messy, but it is better to live in a democracy where we listen to the view of others than in a totalitarian society decisions are often made with little input. How to be good participant using above problem-solving structure is the topic to which we now turn.

Leadership Responsibilities in Meetings
Leadership responsibilities are major responsibilities to lead a group through the intricate process of resolving an issue. There are different kinds of leadership and its functions which will be more effective before, during and after the meeting.

Kinds of Leadership:
There are three kinds of leadership. 1. Authoritarian. 2. Leaderless. 3. Democratic, participative. The style of leadership is on a continuum from authoritarian through democratic to leaderless. Here we elaborate on this premise. 1) Authoritarian: Avoid the following characteristics typical of an authoritarian leader, show contempt for some members, dominates the discussion, praises those who agree with his or her position, speak often and loudly, issues orders and commands suggests that higher authority supports his or her position. Such leadership characteristics do not belong in our current system of group meetings. 2) Leaderless: This is almost as bad as the authoritarian style, but here the leader delegate all direction and decision-making steps to others. This person believes in shared leadership,

allowing high-ability people to run the meeting. While sometimes successful there is need for some one to offer some guidance, some positive feedback to the group that something has been achieved. 3) Democratic, Participative: You live in democracy; you know that all points of view have the right to be heard. You also know that in such an environment the group has the final authority that groups will vary in their ability to make decisions. Your major goal is to make the best decision possible rather than force them into it; you facilitate productive discussion, invite minority options, evaluate unsupported generalization and clarify vague statements. To achieve such a lofty profit profile-with work. Realize that business discussions take time, are frequently disorganized, and are in need of good guidance before, during and after a meeting.

Planning before Meeting:As group leader, you should know the precise purpose of your upcoming meeting. In preparation, take the following steps: 1) Review the Problem & Determine the precise Purpose:Of all people, the chairpersons most know the purpose of meeting and for this must review the problem. Such to else: what steps should we take in reprimanding the employee who satisfied? Accounting records over the past years? To determine what percentage of our benefits should be continued to charities during the year. 2) Decide who should participate:Leadership roles also include deciding who should participate. He is the person who decides to have persons who are representative of the group as a whole. Usual criteria include gender, age, diversity of view, ethnic group and others.

3) Arrange for Meeting Date, Time, and Place: Be exact as to time and date. E-mailing a reminder to participants works well.  Avoid Friday afternoon. Generally Tuesday through Thursday is desirable.  Be precise as to location. A room change from a consistent location demands both oral and E-mail follow-up. 4) Create an Agenda:It is desirable for the chairperson to send out the agenda in advance of a meeting. These are coring questions the basis for meetings:  Fact (is something true or not)  Value (whether something is desirable or undesirable)  Policy (should something be done or not to be done) 5) Distribute the Announcement for the Meeting:If you have decided on the main questions for discussion, laid out the agenda for the meeting, and decide on whom, what, when and where, you’re ready to send out the announcement for the meeting. Some announcements are simple and brief; others may be detailed. In fact, most of the items in the agenda can serve as a major position of the call to the meeting. 6) Check on Physical Arrangement: Select the seating pattern.  Determine what kind of materials is needed in the room.  Have available the usual electronic visual aids.

Participants’ Responsibilities
 Before the conference participants should study all papers if possible, or at least the other papers in their assigned cluster group.  Participants should come to the meeting prepared to actively participate by freely sharing their knowledge, expertise, ideas, and personal experiences.  Participants should feel free to ask questions if they do not understand something that has been said either in a paper, or in the discussions.  Participants should try to be open to the views of others, especially the views of those participants from other cultures and regions.  Participants should try to be on time for all sessions.  Participants will be given a worksheet for each session requesting that they note key points, unanswered questions, formulate new questions, etc.

Effective Participant Roles in Meetings
Participant’s role during a meeting is as important as leadership’s roles. Participant must focus on two things: 1) Contributing content of value through positive participant roles. 2) Suggesting procedural steps to improve both the harmony of the group and the flow of the discussion.

Major participant roles
There are nine roles for participant to play to succeed as a good participant during a meeting.

Organizer:
First role of participant is to be a good organizer and the duty of an organizer is to give procedural suggestion, to get the group back to main, central issues. “Mr. Chairman, I suggest we consider moving to item two on our agenda that issue requires a decision from us by next month.”

Clarifier:
Second role of participant is to act as a clarifier when issues become unclear. Clarifier points out misunderstandings, attempts and to make clear unclear expressions or foggy ideas.

Questioner:
Third role of participant is to act as questioner. For this, know the difference between a vital or an inconsequential question. And ask the question; other may have had the same question but where afraid to voice their concern.

Factual contributor:
Fourth role0 of participant is to act as factual contributor because participant, sometime at substantive (factual, accepted opinions) information to a discussion, in order to make a worthwhile contribution. “We seem to be guessing on what our chairman wished us to do. Let me take a minute and read from his letter to this committee….”

Energizer:
Fifth role of participant is to act as an energizer who keeps persons interested and motivated. “Madam Chairperson, perhaps a recess in order. That would give us a little time to reflect and get a cup of coffee. Then let’s come back and finish this task before the end of the hour. ”

Idea Creator:
Sixth role of participant is to act as an idea creator because the creator risks ideas that may be new, different, and even unusual. So the participant can give an idea in open forum of the meeting. “Let me try this idea…” “Wait a second there may be third option…” “Before coming here I made several phone calls for others ideas. They mention three possibilities, here they are…” “The nation, one of Thailand’s newspapers, recently had an in depth analysis of hotel expansions. May I summarize these three issues which could help us get started? ”

Critical Tester:
Seventh role of participant is to act as a critical tester, to test opinions of others in the meeting. Focus on the content rather than on who is making the statement.

Conciliator:
Eight role of participant is o act as a conciliator because violent disagreement does occur. So, conciliator attempt to find a middle ground, seek to find a compromise.

Helper of others:
Final role of the participant is to invite other participants to join in. and help those who are simply hesitant to speak up in the forum. “We all were a little harsh on your first point. Could you take a little time and explain your second concern.”

Effective Meetings Produce Results
Tips for Meeting Management
People spend so much time in meetings that turning meeting time into sustained results is a priority for successful organizations. Actions take meetings successful require management before, during, and after the meeting. If you neglect anyone of these meetings management opportunities, your meetings will not bear the fruit you desire from the time you invest in meetings. Take these meetings management actions to guide meetings attendees to achieve expected, positive, and constructive outcomes.

Before the Meeting to Ensure Effective meetings
Action before the meeting establishes the ground work for accomplishing meeting results. You can do all of the needed follow-up, but without an effective meeting plan to start, your results will disappoint you.

Plan the Meeting:
Effective meetings that produce results, begin with meeting planning. First, identify whether other employees are needed to help you plan the meeting. Then, decide what you hope to accomplish by holding the meeting. The goals you set will establish the framework for an effective meeting plan. As Stephen Covey says in the

Seven Habits of Highly Effective people, “Begin with the end in mind”. Your meeting purpose will determine the meeting the focus, the meeting agenda, and the meeting participants.

Make Sure You Need a Meeting:
Once you have developed your meeting plan, ensure that a meeting is the appropriate vehicle for accomplishing the set goals to schedule and hold the meeting is expensive when you account for the time of the people attending. So, make efforts to determine that a meeting is the best opportunity to solve the problem, improve the process, or make ongoing plan. You may find that you can accomplish the meeting goals with an email discussion or by distributing and requesting information through the company newsletter. Make sure the meeting is needed and not just convenient for you. You will get better results from attendees.

Ensure Appropriate Participation at the Meeting:
If a meeting is appropriate means to accomplish your goals, check with the participants who must attend for the meeting to succeed, the needed attendees must be available to attend the meeting. Postpone the meeting rather than holding a meeting without critical staff members. If a delegate attends in the place of a crucial decision maker, make sure the designated staff members have the authority to make decisions-or postpone the meeting. These points help us to conduct business more efficiently, and for more profit.

Advantages of Group Meetings
 Improved teamwork and problem solving.  Greater creativity.  Provide support for individual with in the group.  Improved communication through participation.  Satisfaction of social needs.  Provides a forum for conflict resolution.  Create a cooperative atmosphere based on trust.  Feelings are expressed more freely.  High level of task achievement.  Meetings are improving.  Meetings are moral boosting.

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