Post Academic


Transfer Your Skills: Keep Meetings Short and Sweet

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on May 1, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOne of the things you hated most about grad school and academia will remain one of the things you hate most about the hamster world—the meeting that goes on forever.

Recently, Rob Weir at Inside Higher Ed offered a list of commandments for faculty members who choose the administrative track. His first rule, however, applies to all management types, period:

Commandment One: Thou shalt not waste faculty time. Most administrator-led meetings are at least twice as long as they need to be. There are a few people who love meetings; most professors don’t. The entire faculty does not need to hear about your personal life, your recent travels, how hard you’ve labored, or details of administrative war stories. These will be not humanize you, and formal schmoozing is a contradiction in terms. Cut to the chase. Impose a time limit for the agenda and stick to it.

But how do you control time if you are in charge of a meeting? And what can you suggest to survive future meetings?

Tips on meeting survival after the jump! Photo by Emiichann, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Bring in an agenda. This will be easy if you were an academic. It’s just like writing out a lesson plan.

Stick to the agenda. This is the hard part. You might have to play the bad guy and cut in with a “Can we move on?” Or say, “Hold that thought, and meet me in my office.”

Beware “grinding.” One of my old bosses had a beautiful term for when meetings began to revolve around what were ultimately nitpicky points. He would call out, “We’re grinding! We’re grinding!” Stop grinding. Move on to something else, and if the subject is that important, you can go back to it later.

Decide what to do with “venting” time. People get the urge to vent in meetings. If the venting isn’t too personal, let it happen, and the employee will feel better. If it gets ugly, deploy the polite question, “Can we take this offline?” Try to handle the venting immediately after the meeting so the employee doesn’t feel like you blew him off; otherwise, the feelings will fester.

Let everyone go if you end early. Need I say more?

If you still aren’t convinced about the importance of keeping it short, think about how therapists manage their time. Therapists set a buzzer, and when that buzzer goes off, your session is over. This is supposed to be healthy, and it’s healthy in both the academic world and the hamster world.

How to Lose Friends and Influence No One [Inside Higher Ed]

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