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We are all happy to return, little by little, to “normality”: to the distant world in which we all lived in 2019, which now appears in the collective subconscious as ancient history. Just as 9/11 changed the world in many ways, the global COVID-19 crisis transformed the way we relate to each other.
The plain and simple reality is that we will never return to “normal”. Rather, we will enter a new era where the parameters of relationship, the form of communication and the hierarchies of social value are different. After great global crises comes a renaissance: embrace change and take advantage of what we have learned. May a year of pandemic not pass you in vain.
The trend implies a change in managerial paradigms. The proposal is simple: in the post-pandemic world, reduce the time of meetings and committees … and increase the time to create connections.
1. Is this meeting really necessary?
Before the pandemic, it was common to travel to another city to have an hour-long meeting, and for the agenda to be full, from floor to ceiling, of meetings, leaving little time for real work and personal connections.
After the pandemic we learned that many meetings can be virtual and fifteen minutes long. Meetings are to update a team or to make strategic decisions, but should be avoided if there is no material to justify them. Meetings today must be more effective and faster, leaving enough space for other directive, operational and managerial tasks.
2. Have an agenda. Communicate it. Fulfill it.
A good meeting has two or three items on the agenda, and these should be communicated in advance or, failing that, at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting leader should be transparent about the start and end time (and be very punctual!). Forget about surprise meetings or those where people do not know what they are going for. While it may be tempting to “be in control,” it’s actually stress and discomfort.
3. Avoid the decibel rule
In a meeting there are always people who speak more and with greater volume: they are people who are used to having their opinion heard and having the last word. There is nothing wrong with this, necessarily. The problem is that there are other people who are more shy and less assertive, and who do not usually raise their hands or voices.
Your job as a moderator is to give these people a voice , and moderate those who eat time and linger on their own opinions.
Doing this is relatively straightforward: ask non-speakers directly, especially when their opinion is relevant to the case. At the end, take a simple vote, so that only those who know how to shout don’t “win” the meeting.
4. Use diversity wisely
A board or committee works well when people together create more wealth than individually. Actively seek diversity and multidisciplinarity … and then make it count! Although in the end everyone has a vote, it is important that each person clearly expresses the specific knowledge within their area: that the doctor contributes on health issues, the communicator on communication issues and the lawyer on legal issues.
Uninformed opinion can become a real weight that drags the boards into the black hole of despair.
5. Conclude with tasks
A meeting that doesn’t end with a concrete to-do list is a missed meeting. Always put the agreements in writing and share with everyone involved. Now follow up: this list can be the basis for the next meeting’s agenda.
6. Finally: less meetings and more connection!
The personalized leadership trend takes more and more force in the post-covid era. Keep group meetings as short (and as few) as possible, and talk one-on-one with people, creating real connections that build wealth beyond meetings.
Find personal spaces, also brief, to listen to your collaborators, their stories, their ideas and their concerns. Have a coffee, walk with them and call them by name. Ask them about their children and their hobbies. Remember that communication is not a technique, but a relationship. As long as the relationship with the people you work with remains healthy and real, problems will be solved more easily and without losing the vision and mission of your business.