Dysfunctional behaviour in meetings is on the rise.  One issue is the proliferation of mobile communications so people take their smart phones, tablet devices or laptops into meetings and then openly use them to respond to email and other forms of communications.  The paradox is that many feel that they are being ‘efficient’ by multitasking in meetings when the reality is somewhat different as meetings take longer as a consequence.

Multitasking is just one issue, there are other interruptions and distractions which cause meetings to go off track.  But just having an agenda and arriving on time won’t ensure that all will go well during a meeting. You have to actively keep the conversation on track, and the best way to achieve this is by establishing meeting ‘ground rules’ at the start.

Before tackling agenda items, introduce the objectives and desired outcomes. Next, discuss and agree a few ground rules so people know to keep things moving. For example, commit to starting and ending on time. Ask for everyone’s participation and openness to new ideas. Agree to listen to each other, and make a no-interruptions rule. Clarify how decisions will be made — the group should know if this is a group-decision meeting, a meeting that only calls for people’s input, or a meeting that shares an already made decision. Reiterate the importance of being efficient and finishing on time and agree a policy on multitasking and device use to enable this to happen.

Gaining agreement to meeting ground rules will not guarantee that everyone will stick to them but it will set an expectation that you are professional and expect the meeting to be run so.  In addition, it provides a basis for both you and other participants to give feedback to those not abiding by them.

Dealing with dysfunctional behaviour is just one of the skills required by the meeting chair, our Chairing Meetings Effectively one day in house course, or 1 to 1 training, will give delegates the skills to chair meetings which are focused, run to time and get results.