There are probably as many good reasons to cancel a meeting as there are to have one in the first place but, unfortunately, we usually go ahead with them anyway. And, thus develops your meetings’ reputation as boring, pointless, time-wasting exercises in futility. It’s not too late to fix that though, by keeping a few rules of thumb  in mind when deciding….to meet or not to meet. That is the question!

            Here’s when you should meet:

  • You have information to impart that cannot be understood in written form by an adult of average intelligence.
  • Your team is in need of motivation, encouragement, and recognition that is best shared face-to-face… and you intend to focus on that during your meeting.
  • Input, ideas, comments, and general feedback from your team is needed and your meeting will be designed so that their voices can be heard.
  • It is possible for your library to make time for the right people to be away from their daily tasks long enough to attend your meeting.
  • You have a pattern of shared decision-making in your organization and you need to apply it to a specific project.

Unfortunately, lots of meetings take place that don’t meet this criteria. For whatever reason, good or bad, staff is pulled off the floor (or glued to their computer monitors) for seemingly endless hours of pointless debate. Here are just a few meeting mistakes that should be avoided when handling something as valuable as your team’s time and talent:

  • It’s the first Tuesday and all the public services managers meet on the first Tuesday so, even though we have nothing pressing to discuss, let’s meet!
  • Public Service involves everything from Children’s storytimes to Adult Reference to Circulation. Today’s meeting topic involves only a Circulation issue but, hey, let’s make everyone else come too!
  • More than half of your meeting agenda involves sharing some board information that’s available in a printed report. Why not spend a good hour or so reading it aloud to everyone, rather than having them read it themselves ahead of time and bring questions!?
  • After wasting the first half of the meeting (see above), let’s spend the second half hearing how all the work that was supposed to be done and reported on hasn’t been done because no one completed their assignment from the prior meeting.

If you see yourself or your team in any of these examples, maybe it’s time you re-thought how and why you hold your meetings! With some planning and intentional design, they can become something exciting, encouraging, and purposeful – and something that attendees really want to be part of. If they’re not…then cancel that meeting and try again.

Catherine Hakala-Ausperk with the American Library Association, author of How to Build Great Teams

Libraries Thrive Consulting
8686 Bainbridge Rd.
Bainbridge, OH 44023

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