Meetings are generally regarded as the bane of office life, but they are unavoidable. A face-to-face interaction with one or more people is usually the best and most efficient way to pass on information, exchange ideas, or talk through difficult issues. Meetings do not have to be rambling and boring, though. There are a number of different types of meeting that are set up for different purposes.
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Most teams have a daily or weekly "check-in" meeting. They get updates, assign tasks, and share important diary commitments. In many teams the meetings are so short that they are referred to as "stand up meetings," as no one has the chance to sit down. They are a good way to make sure that problems don't fester and that everyone is motivated and on-track.
In most organisations, members of staff have regular one-to-one meetings with their line managers. These can take place on a weekly or monthly basis. It is an opportunity to keep the manager up-to-date with what the staff member is doing, and is a subtle method of ongoing performance management. The manager may also be asked for advice or offer his seniority to help deal with a problem.
A brainstorm or "think thank" meeting is a great way to generate creative ideas of find new approaches to solving an intractable problem. They are held occasionally, and it is often a good idea to invite people from different teams and departments. A good brainstorm is time-limited and well organised with a clear brief given at the start. The ideas are not discussed or critiqued within the brainstorm, though there may be a vote on the best ideas at the end.
Strategy and planning
Strategy and planning meetings include budget-setting meetings, annual reviews and objective-setting meetings. They tend to be semi-formal with participation by senior managers, set agendas, and a requirement to circulate papers before the meetings. In some organisations, the senior managers form a panel and ask other participants to justify their proposals.
This type of meeting is common in professional firms and other knowledge organisations. The chief executive or most senior manager meets with the whole staff group to give an update on the organisation's performance and to take questions. In some organisations, other managers or members of staff may be invited to give presentations or update on projects with which they are involved.
Formal governance meetings
Almost all organisations have at least one formal meeting built into their governance systems. These can include Board meetings, trustees' meetings, and annual general meetings. Regulations or the company agreement usually state who should be at these meetings, which have a formal agenda and which are recorded in formal minutes.
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