26 March 2006

Meetings Matter

I just conducted an interactive big group meeting with 45 people in the room. People from all departments and cross-sections of the organization. What a mess right? Not if you follow a time-sensitive strict agenda. Meetings are the platforms that move organizations to new levels of functioning. They are the means to arrive at ideas, strategies, and closing important business deals. It is a sad surprise then, that meetings are hardly ever structured the right way.

A huge part of my job is to make meetings matter. With careful agendas designed to bring out conversations that really need to happen, meetings can change your organization like never before. So think different with your people. Don't stick to the conventional high profile meetings of a select few in the company. Involve everybody in the most important decisions because everybody will be affected by them, and their decision to stay on in your company may be depend on it. Think BIG. Get everybody in the room. And if you are a leader, get good at facilitation. Actualize potential by delegating note-taking to someone, stick to an agenda that's important, allow all those important views and perspectives to get in, and nail those actions down.

17 March 2006

The Under-rated Office Picnic

Don't underestimate the under-rated office picnic. If you are an HR Manager or CEO, use the picnic and turn it into a one day offsite retreat. This is what I am doing with one of my clients I work with on a retainership basis. I know it might sound tacky, but I will be organizing the day's events and creating games with certain members of the staff. The games will not only be fun, but they will throw light on office situations in a light humorous way that are not too stressful or threatning. One very useful exercise is to break up the staff into groups and hand them situations to act out in front of everyone. Individual employees will act as their co-workers, boss, subordinates, etc. in office scenes that happen every normal work day. Only this time, the fun role-plays will show the perception of people related to other employees, work processes, and departmental functions. You can always use jokes to tell part of the truth. So try this exercise with your group of people and let me know if it helped break down egos and made others understand just what a good job you're doing for the company!

06 March 2006

Process Mapping

Today we started mapping out business processes. Raw data, who's communicating with who, which departments depend on each other on a daily basis, and what information needs to pass through in order to get the company functioning the right way. Next, we identify the glitches in our processes and unnecessary tasks that are time-consuming. We brainstormed on what resources could be used elsewhere and how we could reduce costs without getting rid of any personnel staff. Work effeciency is a better way to cut costs rather than reducing the number of people. We need to learn how to delegate work.

02 March 2006

Change Together

Isn't it exciting when you feel like you've started a process that is making a positive difference to over 100 people's work lives? Most people, at least here in the UAE, are unsatisfied with their jobs. Changes are needed in every part of the organization, and people's jobs. So how do we deal with so many simultaneous issues that all have "no. 1 priority" all over them? The simple answer is: together.

Today one of my client organizations kick started a process I helped create. Big staff meetings once a month attended by all members of staff. I, the external consultant, was needed to meticulously structure meetings to make best use of time and get the maximum amount of practical actions that each person intended to implement after they leave the room. We also started "Solution Sessions" every afternoon from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. where staff members voluntarily participate and present ideas related to specific problem-areas the company faces everyday. Ironically, this also served the purspose of cutting down lunch breaks and lazy hours so that productivity is enhanced and creative minds are utilized. Of course I take the minutes and report on progress on all the actions for our next big meeting.