Organizational Meetings

Organizational Meetings
(Reprinted with permission)

The CPA Journal (a publication of the New York Society of CPA’s)
http://www.cpajournal.com
November 1976

By Gregory F. Pashke, CPA
Fargo Dowling Pashke & Twargowski 

Are your organizational meetings efficient and effective or are they usually characterized as boring, time-wasting, ill-structured gatherings which generate marginal results?

Review of the following considerations might provoke some insights on how you might alter current meeting procedures so as to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. These considerations would apply to client meetings as well as your own firm meetings

Cost of Meetings

Remember the significant internal hourly cost of meetings in terms of personnel time availability. This factor alone, when appropriately perceived, can provide the incentive to reassess the types, frequency, content, attendance and necessity of existing organizational meetings.

Agenda

The majority of meetings generally warrant the development and circulation of a carefully thought-out agenda that sufficiently enumerates the topics for discussion and the pre-meeting preparation expected of the meeting participants (stress clarity and avoid vagueness). Remember the agenda can act as a control mechanism both prior to and during the meeting.

Topical Time Allotment

Allot each topical agenda item the time it merits given its relative importance to the organization and the time constraints of the meeting.

Be careful, however, not to give inadequate attention to topics merely because of an overly ambitious agenda (topics of lesser importance can often be deferred to a subsequent meeting without dire circumstances). Similarly, do not allow a meeting to drag on if the agenda items have been sufficiently treated (do not beat a dead horse).

Periodic Meeting Evaluation

Occasional appraisals of the timing, frequency, participation, efficiency, effectiveness and necessity of various organizational meetings should be made. Avoid the pitfall of an organizational climate that proliferates and perpetuates meetings.

Timing of Meetings

Do not underestimate the effects that the timing (day of week, time of day, etc.) of meeting can have on its impact. For example, a high-powered and motivating practice development meeting held late Friday afternoon could hardly expect to have significant carry forward effects on the following Monday.

Utilize Various Methods of Presentation

Encourage the use of visual aids (slides, charts, movies, exhibits, etc.) surveys, quotes and other evidential and presentation methods. It is no accident that such meetings are often characterized by enthusiastic, creative and motivated participants.

Get Things Resolved

Nothing does more to undermine the level of effectiveness of meetings and demoralize their participants than meetings at which nothing gets settled. After all the presenting, arguing, discussing, and recommending have subsided, it is essential that the topic be resolved to a specific course of action (implement a procedure, gather additional information, etc.) and someone assigned responsibility for doing it.

Role of Meeting Chair

  • Control the meeting. You can use the agenda and direct the meeting tone by emphasizing certain comments of the participants.
  •  Be flexible. The role of the chair can vary with the intent and circumstances of the meeting. For example, the chairperson at a meeting of citizens, concerned about an urban planning project and characterized by participants with conflicting views but with a common goal, would have a different role than the chairperson of a brainstorming meeting of harmonious California fruit farmers discussing how to sell more prunes.
     
  • Maintain positive tone. Too many meetings bog down in the negative aspects of a problem and the game of “who blames whom” begins. The chairperson needs to stop this situation and immediately redirect the group by emphasizing the common goal of solving the problem (do not dwell on the negatives that foster dissension but rather stress the positives that foster cooperation).
     
  • End on a unifying note. Conclude the meeting with a unifying comment. This is important to reunite the forces toward the achievement of organizational goals.


About the author:

Greg Pashke, CMA, CFM, CMC, CPA/ABV, CBA, CVA, CPCM, MBA is the President of Pashke Consulting, an organizational, managerial, and financial consulting firm. Greg assists organizations strategize, keep score, evaluate results, and monitor their game plans.He can be reached by email at GPashke@PashkeConsulting.com, or by telephone at 772-528-3871 and his web site is: www.pashkeconsulting.com.

Copyright © 2005 Pashke Consulting, all rights reserved.

Greg Pashke
December 7, 2008
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