Tag Archives: education

Brexit. Trump. Strictly. No, don’t click me away! Bear with.

Cards on the table, I don’t much like the tellybox. I watch, occasionally, stuff like Railway Journeys with Portillo, or that wonderful Canal programme with Timothy and Prue, but on the whole most of it passes me by. Most of what I do see is caught accidentally when the rest of the family are watching and I stumble into the room on my way somewhere else. However, I have become surprisingly interested in Strictly Come Dancing this last couple of series – maybe it’s because I remember watching the original all those years ago, usually with an altered state of mind which helped.

Bear with…….

This year has been in interesting year for anyone with half an eye on politics. We have, allegedly, seen a rise in the proletariat offering a bit of a slap to the people who have seeped and dribbled into offices of power and decided they know best. Not only that they know best but that the proles know nothing and need to be kept in their place. Our place. To that end, arguably, Education and Health, and to a large extent the Criminal Justice System and Housing, have been morphing in recent decades, leaving behind much of the social construct and responsibility that most of us value and developing a profit motive that no longer has to try to hide. Priorities in socially important organisations changed of necessity – it was do or die –  and in part that has been supported passively by people still believing that someone with a lot of money and a private education knows better than them. Pair that with the desperate need of many to simply keep body and soul together leaving little time to be involved in much else and a consistent lowering of expectations and we have a perfect storm of passivity and fatigue that allows people who do have the time and money (and the networks developed at school and Uni and by family connections) to buy a pathway into power. I mention no names…….

And then came 2016. Hands up who approached 2016 thinking “Thank Goodness 2015 is over, what a year, it can only get better”…..? Yes, well that went well, didn’t it? Apart from lots of lovely people dying who had created my history and the musical and artistic backdrop to my youth, we also had Brexit and Trump. Divisions created deliberately by the powerful to conquer the masses led to the very public murder of one woman, an increase in the confidence of people with shameful attitudes, a legitimising of all kinds of isms from ageism (the older generation have spoiled things for the young/the young don’t understand the issues) through racism (go back to where you came from/who will you blow up next) and a general atmosphere of mistrust and hatred. Conversation was replaced by brick throwing and chanting, voting was seen as an act of defiance rather than an inalienable right and duty and more people voted for Brexit than at any General Election for years. Public dissatisfaction with politicians who fiddle expenses and despise their electorate was having some practical results. Trump had already hopped onto the bandwagon and shamelessly – alongside some of his opponents and supporters – traded insults and lies rather than debate and detail, whipping up his gang to hatred of others, violence, intolerance and a lack of facts. Taking mansplaining to a whole new level, and behaving publicly in a way that many parents would justifiably have slapped their children for, he set new and deeply unattractive guidelines for public debate and demeanour. In both of these events we witnessed the powerless grasping onto something over which they believed they had some control, a new experience for many. In reality the power and control remained exactly where they already were but the illusion of influence was conferred, more expertly in some areas than in others. That precious vote, hard won by ordinary people over the years, wrestled from the wealthy and powerful and certainly not given freely by them, was being manipulated to support the very people who stood to gain most. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is politics in the 21st Century. Ordinary people are encouraged to think they have had enough of the elite – by some of the elite – in order to get them to vote for the elite.

But something did happen. The idea of sticking it to the elite has taken hold. The concept that perhaps people can make choices, sometimes dangerous or wrong choices, and define their own reality and outcomes and live with the consequences is becoming clearer. And so we arrive at Strictly. I told you to bear with. Ed Balls joined the Strictly dancers and immediately gained the publics support for dancing badly, but with charm and warmth. The pubic enjoyed his efforts and his ineptitude, his determination to do his best and move forward – they liked it much better than some of the other dancers who danced better but were less appealingly human and had less distance to go to dance well. Someone who until recently appeared as part of the elite was shown to be Like Us. Not only Like Us, but likeable and funny. He charmed. The judges were ghastly to Ed and that just increased his popularity – they gurned when he danced, were outright discourteous, were way less encouraging to him than the other “better” dancers and generally behaved like, well, like the elite. Clearly they are the experts, clearly they are dancers, but their unpleasant behaviour rendered that immaterial – we liked Ed because he wasn’t an expert and wasn’t elite. We didn’t like the judges being smug and telling us what to like and what not to like. We Brexited them. We Trumped them. We voted in droves for the Little Man. Apparently. Well, job done. Ed is rehabilitated and the People have spoken. He has worked hard and redefined his place in the public eye.

Quite a few of The Elite are chums of mine. Quite a few of The People are chums of mine. I like them all – I think there is a little bit of fabulous about everyone, without exception. Their politics are not what I admire about them – if they charm me and make me laugh, if they have a brain and a heart, are kind, and hold a conversation well that is what I admire. What they do in the ballot box is not my business. What is my business is what happens when the votes are counted and policy decisions are being made. As someone who has worked for years in health, justice and social care and across all the sectors, and as a school governor, I have seen how public policy impacts actual people. Left and Right are almost irrelevant as long as socially important organisations and services remain at the whim of people many of whom will say and do almost anything to sit in a seat of power, many of whom have no meaningful experience of the departments they lead ( I am sure you know what I mean and who I mean……), and who potentially change direction regularly every few years. When there is actually a direction to change and not just a dogma to follow.  While we have no available Intensive Care beds for children anywhere in the country, while nearly 9,000 people slept on the streets in London alone in 2015/16 – and that is only the recorded figure – and 57,750 households were accepted as homeless and in ‘priority need’ in the same year, a six percent rise on the previous year, while mental health services are randomly delivered and under-funded and a false economy as so many people bounce around the expensive system, while almost as many people leave prison unable to read as entered it (this is changing, thank goodness, thanks to some fabbo people, but so slowly), while people with a criminal record are routinely excluded from jobs and housing denying them the opportunity to desist, while all of these things and more are happening Left and Right can argue until blue/red/green/yellow/purple in the face but it will remain a disgrace and the responsibility of all of them. And all of us.

There are some properly decent people in and around government and in and around some of the organisations that develop and deliver services, people who actually want to make a difference and not a fortune. I insist on feeling hopeful that the vote for Brexit – and Strictly – is an indication of the start of increased popular involvement in government. Whether or not I agree with outcomes upon which people vote does not matter – it is up to me to make a case for my view and debate properly. If votes go a different way to the one I would like I still rejoice that democracy has taken place. We have become a tad complacent in recent years, the freedoms and opportunities that have taken so long and so much painful sacrifice to attain are at risk. That complacency has allowed bad practices to slip under the wire – without some darn good journalism the expenses scandals would have remained unknown, for example, or at the least unremarked. Our inexplicable faith in people in positions of power, supported by the anaesthesia of media dependence, has let us take our collective eyes off the collective ball. My optimism tells me that people are perhaps willing to become more engaged and knowledgeable about the things that will affect their lives and less tribal in their allegiances. Brexit and Strictly both cut across most demographics…….

So, vote for Strictly! Vote in your local and general elections! Talk to your MP, find out what she or he actually thinks and don’t take it on face value – challenge, probe, question, scrutinise. And crucially, tell her or him what you think and what you expect of them. Own outcomes. Learn to Salsa and wear some fancy clothes. Dance and vote like no-one is watching.  And remember that T Blair is creating a global organisation to combat populism  – that’s you and me – and promote globalism – the thing that fills his pockets. We must be becoming dangerous……….

A criminal waste, a disabled society. Unlock Your Future.

Easter is a time for reflection. I have been reflecting on the many people it has been my privilege to meet over the years. Many of the people I have worked with are people that the Jesus that I like to imagine would recognize: vulnerable, damaged, disenfranchised, hostile, broken, pathetic, lost, abused. I like them.

Disability is a strange concept, and many of the people with disabilities who I know would strongly suggest that it is not them with the disability but society, culture, which is disabled or which provides the disability. We build streets fit for the able bodied, buildings that exclude all but the well and the fit, work that suits only the driven and the straight and “normal”.  We see “work” as a means for economic growth and acquisition, and ignore the very real other benefits work can bring such as purpose, esteem, quality of life, respect. We patronise the successful disabled and express astonishment at their success. We create targets and drivers that take no account of alternative talents and aspirations, that fail to value otherness, indeed in a tabloid sense disability is so often viewed simply as a problem, a drain, a fiscal error.

If you look for the word “disability” online these are some of the words you get:

handicapafflictiondisorderdefectimpairment, disablement, infirmity  incapacityweaknessinability • Disability can make extra demands on financial resources.

Transfer those words to our environment and see what happens. Our shops have defects and will not allow wheelchairs in, our streets are afflicted with high kerbs and a lack of ramps, many work environments lack the capacity to value a range of people and talents and are, as a result, weak and impaired. Recruitment is afflicted by a set of rules and processes that despite legislation and encouragement still often excludes too many and that handicaps the workforce.

I would go further and suggest that people with a criminal history have been handicapped or disabled by society. Their forensic history effectively cripples their employment potential and afflicts their family life. If we suppose that it is indeed society and our culture that creates disability, in effect cripples its citizens, it follows that society can redress that. Some legislation attempts to do that by supporting “equal opportunities”, but equal ops can only happen if we view all candidates with an equal eye and the work environment is capable of accepting all candidates equally.

If you look for the word “criminal” online these are some of the words you get:

unlawfulillicitlawlesswrongillegalcorruptcrookedviciousimmoralwicked, culpable, disgracefulridiculousfoolishsenselessscandalouspreposterousdeplorable

I notice that none of those characteristics is irreversible. They are a description of how it is at the moment, not how it will be in the future. If we continue to exclude people from employment, to ignore the many benefits a varied and experienced workforce can bring, to expect jobless hopeless futureless people to suddenly somehow behave like employed, hopeful people with aspirations on release from prison, we set ourselves up to fail, and we fail our communities.

I don’t suggest for a moment that we employ anyone and everyone into any vacancy without safeguards and safety nets. I don’t do soft and fluffy. I do however suggest that we create those safeguards and safety nets and take the trouble to include the excluded and create a properly integrated and cohered environment in which everyone is valued, has the space to grow, and has their aspirations valued. Not because it is soft and fluffy, but because it reduces the risks of offending, of disaffection, and increases the chances of people buying into their communities and making the effort to support their futures and crucially it means we reduce the risk of missing out on some serious talent. Back in the day when social and health care services were even more rigid in their outlook than they are now, I employed an ex-offender who had done time for murder. I employed him in elder care. This was not universally welcomed…….But I ran the checks, created the risk assessment, spoke to the people I needed to speak to and importantly offered him a mentor and some effective support to re-adjust. It was a success.

No-one would suggest  there is an easy answer or that it is a simple matter. But that is not a good enough reason not to try.

No Offence CiC is a social enterprise  and I am lucky enough to be on the Board. We are not driven by private profit and we facilitate open access to crime and justice information. By challenging barriers to positive change and influencing future policy, our objective is simple: to make a difference. My own organisation, Mayall Management Ltd, is proud to support the Unlock Your Future project that No Offence is driving.

http://www.no-offence.org/

Unlock your Future

‘Breaking down barriers to employment for people with convictions’

This project will focus on identifying and breaking down the barriers to employment for people with convictions, to bring employers and employees together.

A simple key discreetly placed on a job advert will indicate that this employer will consider all applications on their merit and not their past.

Many employers have a skills shortage and would benefit from an increased pool of suitable candidates from which to recruit.

Unfilled vacancies can have an economic impact on any business and increase pressure on other employees attempting to make up the resourcing short fall.

We need a network of champions to raise awareness of this project and support employers to use the key either on their own website and/or on our jobs board and spread the word to those people looking for a job and also recruit other champions. Could you help us?

Employment provides us with a significant opportunity to break the cycle of reoffending. If you are an employer please join our network and we will send you the key to use free of charge.

http://www.no-offence.org/static-page/unlock-your-future/

 

Nothing says I Love You like a well run meeting…..

So, you have recruited the best, and you are paying them well. You have a business to develop, and standards to raise. You are leading a team. How do you really screw that up?

Create meetings that don’t matter, allow people to arrive late and faff, and fail to tell people if they are cancelled.

You want to get the best from your teams, to create opportunities for them to thrive, to deliver and to grow. You need to meet from time to time to review, develop, touch base, share and cascade information, to brainstorm, to hang out, and to motivate. So, you have opportunities to value and reach out to your teams. If you fail to use that opportunity, you don’t deserve it.

Meetings are fab, and a great place to get things done and decisions made. They are also the best place to lose the good will of your teams, to send absolutely the wrong message, and to poison your relationships. Get it right, and they are brilliant. Get it wrong, and they are toxic.

Even in the best companies not every meeting can be a hit. However, if there is a clear, up-front goal, a visible agenda, and the players know the difference between a constructive tangent and a distraction positive results are inevitable. Are you willing to speak up if you see ways to improve? Don’t let yourself get comfortable with the status quo. It only takes a moment to plug the energy leaks.

                                           MEETING EFFECTIVELY

1. Don’t Meet. Yes, you heard me!

Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report. One of the keys to having more effective meetings is differentiating between the need for one-way information dissemination and two-way information sharing. To disseminate information you can use a variety of other communication media, such as sending an e-mail or posting the information on your company’s intranet. If you want to be certain you have delivered the right message, you can schedule a meeting to simply answer questions about the information you have sent. By remembering to ask yourself, “Is a meeting the best way to handle this?” you’ll cut down on wasted meeting time and restore your group’s belief that the meetings they attend are necessary.    However, when deciding whether or not a meeting is needed remember The Myth Of The Paper Trail: We’ve all heard the myth of the “paperless office,” but looking at the mountain of paper that’s engulfing your workspace, how many of us actually believe it? In fact, studies have shown that the volume of paper produced by businesses has increased rather than diminished in recent years. Have you ever written a memo or report, then printed off 10 copies to give to your colleagues for feedback? You end up with 10 edited copies that you have to try and integrate into one cohesive document. Wouldn’t it save everyone time (and paper) if you called a meeting with your team, collaborated with the live document, and made your changes then and there?

2. Set Objectives for the Meeting
Set objectives before the meeting. Before planning the agenda for the meeting, write down a phrase or several phrases to complete the sentence: By the end of the meeting, I want the group to… Depending on the focus of your meeting, your ending to the sentence might include phrases such as: …be able to list the top three features of our newest service, …have generated three ideas for increasing our sales, …understand the way we do business with customers, …leave with an action plan, …decide on a new widget supplier, or …solve the design problem.

One benefit of setting objectives for the meeting is to help you plan the meeting. The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. A second important benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting. Were you successful in meeting the objectives? Why or why not? Is another meeting required? Setting meeting objectives allows you to continuously improve your effective meeting process.

No clear goal invariably results in circular thinking, being “lost but making good time,” misusing the time for irrelevant details or pet distractions – a classic case of the “hours are lost while the minutes are taken.” Set the agenda in advance, gaining consensus on purpose.

If people drift off topic but nobody says “refocus” or gently challenges the speaker to tie comments back to the stated purpose it is a poorly led meeting and has a high risk of failure – it will also lose good will. Diversity of opinion is helpful when it leads to creative insight, but lengthy tangents often stem from unclear direction or not taking the agenda seriously. A flip chart page labeled “Parking Lot” can be used to quickly record side issues (I love this one – and it always works!) A gentle intervention is “Tie that in … how does that relate to our topic?”

3. Provide an Agenda Beforehand
Provide all participants with an agenda before the meeting starts. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long. When you send the agenda, you should include the time, date and location of the meeting and any background information participants will need to know to hold an informed discussion on the meeting topic. What’s the most important thing you should do with your agenda? Follow it closely!

4. Assign Meeting Preparation
Give all participants something to prepare for the meeting, and that meeting will take on a new significance to each group member. For problem-solving meetings, have the group read the background information necessary to get down to business in the meeting. Ask each group member to think of one possible solution to the problem to get everyone thinking about the meeting topic. For example, to start a sales meeting on a positive note, have all participants recall their biggest success since the last meeting and ask one person to share his success with the group. For less formal meetings or brainstorming sessions, ask a trivia question related to the meeting topic and give the correct answer in the first few minutes of the meeting. These tips are excellent ways to warm up the group and direct participants’ attention to the meeting objectives.

5. Assign Actions
Don’t finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it. Listen for key comments that flag potential action items and don’t let them pass by without addressing them during your meeting. Statements such as We should really…, that’s a topic for a different meeting…, or I wonder if we could… are examples of comments that should trigger action items to get a task done, hold another meeting or further examine a particular idea. Assigning tasks and projects as they arise during the meeting means that your follow-through will be complete. Addressing off-topic statements during the meeting in this way also allows you to keep the meeting on track. By immediately addressing these statements with the suggestion of making an action item to examine the issue outside of the current meeting, you show meeting participants that you value their input as well as their time.

If the meeting is not well managed outcomes drift and results are nebulous, or worse, wasted. If there is no accurate, written record of decisions made, clear consensus and accountability on action steps, or no follow-up from prior work, the bottom falls out. Make sure you verify all agreements, making sure there’s a reasonable “by when.”

6. Examine Your Meeting Process
Assign the last few minutes of every meeting as time to review the following questions: What worked well in this meeting? What can we do to improve our next meeting? Every participant should briefly provide a point-form answer to these questions. Answers to the second question should be phrased in the form of a suggested action. For example, if a participant’s answer is stated as Bernie was too long-winded, ask the participant to re-phrase the comment as an action. Remember – don’t leave the meeting without assessing what took place and making a plan to improve the next meeting!

                                                   

   LEADING A MEETING   – Lead that meeting! Grab it and steer it and use it!

Want to lead your next group meeting, but aren’t sure what to do first? Follow these guidelines and it’ll be easier than you think!

1. Schedule the Meeting

  • When scheduling your meeting, consider the information that must be covered, then allocate an appropriate amount of time. Don’t try to cram too many agenda topics into a 30-minute meeting. You’ll end up going overtime and attendees will become frustrated. On the other hand, don’t schedule too much time or the meeting may become slow-moving and get off-topic. My advice? Being realistic is the best way to allocate an appropriate amount of time for a meeting.
  • Don’t get caught up on halves and wholes. Many people will automatically allocate either 30 minutes or a full hour when scheduling a meeting simply because these quantities of time are common and expected. Schedule a 40-minute meeting if that’s the amount of time it takes to cover the subject. Don’t feel pressured to fill an hour if you don’t have an hour of issues to cover.
  • Carefully consider who should be attending the meeting. Only invite those whose attendance is absolutely necessary. If there’s someone who should know what happened in the meeting, but whose attendance isn’t absolutely necessary, send them a quick e-mail outlining the outcomes of the meeting. All of us already attend too many meetings. These individuals will be thankful for that one extra meeting they DIDN’T have to attend that week.

2. Create the Meeting Information
When sending invitations to a meeting, ask attendees if they have any agenda item requests. Once the agenda items have been requested, the agenda must be created at least one day before the meeting is scheduled. This way, you can distribute the agenda to all of the attendees before the meeting begins.

3. Distribute the Meeting Information
When participants have the agenda and access to background information before the meeting, it gives them sufficient time to prepare for any discussions or decisions that will occur during the meeting. This also saves time during the meeting. If attendees come to the meeting prepared, less time will be spent answering background information questions and more time for discussing the important issues. When distributing the agenda, remind participants that it’s their responsibility to come prepared to the meeting!

4. Lead the Meeting. Take responsibility. Step into the limelight!

  • Start your meeting on time! Even if all the attendees haven’t arrived, begin when you said you would. Adhering to the schedule sends out a message that you’re serious about the meeting and expect attendees to arrive on time. If your meetings often start late and run over time, it doesn’t have to be this way! It’s time to take your meetings more seriously!
  1.  Commit to starting and finishing your meetings on time.
  2.  Expect attendees to be punctual and the meeting to finish on schedule. Intolerance for tardiness will set a behavioural standard for the group, and participants will likely conform if expectations are well-defined and consistently enforced. Listed next are some tips to help you and your group stay on time.
  3.  Send a reminder e-mail thirty minutes before the meeting begins and encourage meeting participants to arrive on time.
  4.  Ensure that you begin the meeting at the scheduled time. If you’ve encouraged others to be prompt, don’t embarrass yourself by showing up late.
  5. Close the meeting room doors at the scheduled time. There’s nothing like late attendees to disrupt the flow of a meeting!
  6. Consider posting a note outside the door stating the meeting’s time. This may seem harsh, but it clearly communicates how serious you are about keeping your meetings on time.
  7.  If the tardy participants don’t consider your meeting important enough to arrive on time, perhaps they shouldn’t have committed to attend at all.
  8.  If your meeting starts a little late, you should still finish the meeting at the scheduled time. It’s inconsiderate to assume the participants’ schedules revolve around your meeting, so wrap up the meeting when you promised.
  9.  Consider creating a “latecomer jar” to which meeting participants must contribute £1 for each minute they arrive late to meetings. At the end of the week, you can buy muffins or doughnuts for everyone who attended the meeting… courtesy of the latecomers!
  • As the meeting begins, provide an overview of agenda items and introduce the overall objective of the meeting. This provides direction for the meeting and reinforces what needs to be accomplished during this time. Introduce each agenda item by mentioning who will speak next and what will be discussed.
  • As the meeting leader, you’re responsible for recording the meeting notes, whether it’s on an interactive whiteboard, flipchart or in a notebook. This will free participants from the burden of note-taking and encourage richer, more in-depth discussions.
  • It’s also your responsibility to keep the meeting on track. This means steering the meeting discussion in a way that fulfils the meeting objectives. If you have difficult personalities in the room or opposing views, this can be challenging! Try using sentences such as, “That’s a valid point, but doesn’t directly apply to this discussion. Perhaps we should schedule a separate meeting to address it fully.” Or, “It’s obvious there are some opposing views surrounding this issue. Perhaps our time would be best spent working towards a compromise. Any suggestions?” If a meeting becomes particularly heated, it’s best to address what’s possible in the meeting but consider hiring a professional facilitator for the next meeting – a neutral leader who’s trained to deal with high-pressure, high-conflict meetings.
  • Items that surface and must be addressed should be assigned during the meeting discussion. Assign a particular individual or group to follow-up on each action item. A deadline and priority level should also be assigned for the action items.

5. Wrap-up the Meeting

  • At the end of the meeting, the leader should review the action items, who’s responsible and by when. This way, everyone has a clear picture of who’s responsible for what when the meeting’s over.
  • Another item that should be addressed at the end of your meeting is the meeting process itself. Take a few moments at the end of the meeting to discuss what the group did well during the meeting and which areas need improving.
  • Once the meeting objective has been accomplished, adjourn the meeting. Even if it’s thirty minutes earlier than expected! Don’t continue meeting simply because that’s what the schedule dictates.

6. Provide the Meeting Information
After the meeting is over, send the meeting information to all the participants. Because you were responsible for note-taking during the meeting, you may be the only one who has this information after the meeting ends. Whether you provide the notes by e-mail or photocopied hand-outs, sharing this meeting information is vital for proper follow-up. It’s also a good idea to include a summary of all the action items assigned during the meeting. This acts as a reminder to all participants of who’s responsible for what and by when.

Remember…

It’s important to keep in mind that calling a meeting doesn’t always have to be a major production. Keep it brief, focus on the issue at hand, and concentrate on reaching a workable conclusion. Remember, scheduling a 15-minute meeting can be a lot more effective than three e-mails, two missed phone calls, and a paper report!

RIGHT – THAT’S THE ORGANISER SORTED. WHAT ABOUT THE ATTENDEES?

  Attend meetings well – impress your Boss!

Attending a meeting is an activity, not a passivity! Make sure your Boss remembers you for the right reasons!

  • Quickly review the agenda before heading to the meeting. It’s a good idea to remind yourself why you’re attending the meeting. Reviewing the agenda helps attendees be better prepared for the meeting and, in turn, will help focus the meeting, enable all of the agenda items to be covered and allow the meeting to finish on time!
  • Make your way to the meeting ten minutes before it actually begins. This will give you enough time to visit the washroom, pour a cup of coffee or deal with any issues that may come up along the way. Plus, you’ll get the best seat for the meeting!
  • Consider speaking up if the meeting organizer shows up late. There are several ways to do this tactfully without insulting anyone. For example, if the organizer consistently arrives ten minutes late to your weekly meetings, ask him if it would be more convenient to start 15 minutes later next week.
  • Try to ask only relevant questions during the meeting. If your comment isn’t directly related to the topic at hand, don’t mention it. Getting off track is one of the main reasons that meetings go over time. If your group can avoid getting off track, you’ll all spend less time in meetings.
  •  Leave the meeting when it was scheduled to end. When the organizer extended the invitation to meet, he stated when the meeting would finish. It was on this condition that you accepted the meeting and committed your time. If you have work to which you must attend, politely tell the organizer that you have to leave and excuse yourself from the meeting.

By acting on these ideas you can indicate how important punctual meetings are and how committed you are to making them work. Trust me, your Boss and the meeting organiser will remember you fondly if you follow the above steps!

      Make Meetings Fun! This goes for everyone who has to organise or attend meetings.

When the average employee is asked to attend another meeting during their busy day, the natural response is to run like the wind – or at least fake a “scheduling conflict.” It’s hard to imagine meetings being considered “fun.” But injecting a little fun into your meetings might be just the right thing to encourage participation and creativity.

No one will be required to recite knock-knock jokes, wear silly costumes (although I did once go to a meeting dressed as a Chuckle Brother – they were desperate times!!) or balance a spoon on their nose, but a little laughter can go a long way towards improving productivity and employee morale. Unless the meeting is scheduled to deliver bad news, why not try a few of these ideas?

  1. Most people learn by doing. Whenever possible, include hands-on activities, live demonstrations, field trips, games, role-playing, etc.
  2. Don’t be afraid to mix it up – variety is what keeps people interested.
  3. Bribery works! Organize contests to generate ideas and offer prizes to encourage participation. A little friendly competition can bring great results.
  4. If your meetings tend to be dominated by a few people, try passing out five pennies to each meeting attendee. Attendees must “spend” a penny each time they talk. And no borrowing allowed!
  5. Consider appointing a Director of Fun for meetings. The Director will be responsible for dreaming up participatory activities, bringing in additional fun materials (videos, comic strips, articles, snacks) that relate to the meeting topic. A different Director could be appointed for each meeting.
  6. For a fun change of pace, consider hosting a meeting in talk-show style. Have the speakers act as guests, attendees are audience members and the meeting facilitator can be the talk show host. The host will encourage the audience to ask questions and share their opinions on the speakers’ comments.

Having fun at work leads to a more enjoyable time and increased employee loyalty. It’s important to always provide employees with the caveat up front that they’re free to decide to what extent they wish to participate. Some employees will warm up more slowly to an unconventional meeting style than others. It’s not fun to have your meeting facilitator (or worse, your boss) breathing down your neck to hurry up and start enjoying yourself. People will participate when they’re comfortable and relaxed.

 Remember, laughter stimulates blood flow, strengthens the immune system, reduces levels of hormones that create stress, and reduces pain perception (this is especially important when you’re attending the sixth meeting of the day). Happy Meeting!

This is an extract from an Education and Development Workshop devised and delivered by Bernie Mayall for Mayall Management Ltd. Mayall Management Ltd devise bespoke educational experiences for your services and your organisations and deliver them, from Execs up to Domestics, there is education for all!

berniemayall@gmail.com     07757262380

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