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Old 4th December 2004, 10:52 AM   #1
Hugh Aaron
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Default The Enthusiastic Company

Should a business be only interested in the bottom line? Or should it also dedicate itself to having a corps of happy employees? You'll find a discussion on the subject at www.businesswisdom.blogspot.com. Here's the opening paragraph:

For half of its twenty-year life while I was CEO, my company was like most companies. The workers did only what they were paid to do, the executives took long lunches, and no one told the boss what he or she really thought. People performed simply because they needed the paycheck. So, whatís wrong with that, you might ask? Nothing, of course, except it isnít enough.

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Old 4th December 2004, 08:49 PM   #2
bragadocchio
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Nice suggestions, Hugh.

Effective communication is important to any business, and many businesses don't quite grasp that. I don't quite understand why, but they don't.

I've been to my share of meetings, and I can tell you that when they are done wrong, there's nothing more terrible in the world.

I recently read a decent book on meetings titled Death by Meeting. It had some nice suggestions on how to have effective meetings. Going from that, and my own experiences, I'll offer the following:

An hour long daily meeting sounds like too much. But, a quick meeting daily might be a nice way to see that everyone is on the same page.

A weekly status meeting can be helpful, because it can be used to identify problems and opportunities. It shouldn't be where you try to hash out specific problems, and responses to them. It should be a time when everyone gets to have a say, and move on. If specific actions can be identified that can be addressed quickly at one of these meetings, they should be discussed and their progress noted in future meetings.

If something more serious needs to be looked at, schedule longer meetings as needed. If there is a specific problem or opportunity that the business faces, a meeting to just address that one issue can be helpful. This meeting should be held after some research has been conducted, and that research could be shared ahead of time so that people can enter the meeting after having a chance to read it.

Compensation and communication are two of the most important areas where you can make employees happy. A third is enabling employees to rise within the organization. Give them the training and ability to do the job in front of them, and the opportunity to learn more, so that they can rise through the ranks.

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Old 6th December 2004, 01:53 PM   #3
Hugh Aaron
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Default Meetings

Thanks for your comment and suggestions. I might add that our meetings began at 8:00AM, before the phones started ringing. Everyone was equal regardless of their position in the job heirarchy. As CEO I had often been told to go to he--. Each person had a chance to speak his/her mind for a limited time unless we agreed that a particular problem required that we all concentrate on it to its solution. Precisely after one hour the meeting ended, to be resumed the next day on the incompleted subject. The meetings were never boring, never seemed too long, and were usually productive. The revelations derived from the various points of view were often startling. Our most original ideas came out of them. But most important since everyone felt free to express themselves without rancor or fear of retribution no one hesitated to speak his or her honest opinion.

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Old 7th December 2004, 06:56 AM   #4
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I've worked at a couple of places where that type of meeting can work well.

One was a restaurant that I worked at when in college. We would all sit down for a meal together before the place opened for lunch everyday. Those were productive get-togethers. I'm not sure that half the staff realized that they were even in a meeting, but management had a chance to talk to everyone, listen to concerns, tell people what was new, and so on. It worked very well.

Another was a in a temp, seasonal position in a warehouse. At the start of every shift, we had a fifteen-twenty minute meeting where people where encouraged to speak up, and share their thoughts. The full time staff were given stock options as part of their compensation, and they took their ownership seriously - often coming up with suggestions that boosted morale, inproved processes, and so on.

But I've been in other organizations where meetings didn't work well. What would you say makes the difference?

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Old 8th December 2004, 09:15 AM   #5
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Group Meeting's are a waste of Time and Company Money. Most people hate going to them anyways. I was a Supervisor at UPS for 4 years. My most affective way to communicate with my employees was to talk to them while they were working. Helping them work and just talk about Family, Life, Work. This seemed to be the most effective way to get the TRUTH.

Companies should cut meetings down to a minimum, and find other ways to boost morale. Treat each person with respect and allow them to reach their highest potential. Allow them to work to the fullest.

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Old 8th December 2004, 04:48 PM   #6
Hugh Aaron
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Default Group meetings

You're making a generality. Yes, group meetings can be a waste of time, but not ours because they were structured to stimulate ideas for specific solutions. Actually, even when I couldn't attend the participants continued them on their own which they were free not to do.

Meetings

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our meetings began at 8:00AM, before the phones started ringing. Everyone was equal regardless of their position in the job heirarchy. As CEO I had often been told to go to he--. Each person had a chance to speak his/her mind for a limited time unless we agreed that a particular problem required that we all concentrate on it to its solution. Precisely after one hour the meeting ended, to be resumed the next day on the incompleted subject. The meetings were never boring, never seemed too long, and were usually productive. The revelations derived from the various points of view were often startling. Our most original ideas came out of them. But most important since everyone felt free to express themselves without rancor or fear of retribution no one hesitated to speak his or her honest opinion. The ideas that came out of these meetings eventually resulted in a percentage tripling of our bottom line based on sales.

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Old 9th December 2004, 08:19 AM   #7
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While I still feel that 85% of company meetings are non-productive I can see your point. The main problem I have experienced during company meetings is the lack of follow up. For Example:

CEO ask his/her employees about what idea's could save the company money. The employees give many good ideas. Then two months later the CEO is asking the same questions because he/she failed to follow up and try some of these idea's out. The employees see the pattern and start tuning him/her out. I've seen it many times.

To be a leader, you have to listen to your people, and follow up with their suggestions.

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Old 10th December 2004, 02:36 PM   #8
Hugh Aaron
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Default Leadership

Oh, I couldn't agree with you more on the futility of meetings where there's no follow up on the ideas presented. I encountered it routinely as an employee in a large corporation.

But, in our company, since our meetings consisted of seeking ideas that dealt with real problems, each suggestion was assigned on the spot to be followed up by the individual who presented it, and anybody else who wished to help see it through. If an idea was offered and shot down by the group that's where it ended. But, not group approved ideas such as compensating sales people with increasing reward as their sales grew, for example, or teaching our rank and file how to read a financial statement, or installing team incentive systems based on productivity, and negative incentives based on poor quality, all of which proved effective. I could go on and on with the ideas that came from our people and were instituted by them, most experimentally at first before adopting them for good. Our "think tank" became a secret weapon which led to our surpassing our competitors. By the way, I've written about it in a book: BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL. Yes, as you say meetings must be meaningful or they're worse than worthless.

As I mentioned, everyone was equal at these meeting regardless of what their status was on the job. After the meeting we reverted to our usual positions in the job heirarchy.

Hugh


Last edited by Hugh Aaron; 10th December 2004 at 02:51 PM.
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