Ground Rules for Productive Meetings

Ground Rules for Productive MeetingsMeetings get a bad rap in the workplace these days, and rightfully so. Too often, meetings are unproductive, boring and a general waste of time.

What’s the problem?

The biggest issue is time. With executives and managers being so overbooked, meetings get cut short when they rush in from the last thing they were trying to get done. As a result, people have all these great ideas but there’s no accountability for follow-up and no carry-over from one meeting to the next.

Ground rules for meetings

I’ve trained hundreds of leaders and team members to use upfront agreements to keep both parties on the same page. And you can do the same thing for your workplace meetings.

Here are my suggested ground rules for communication and accountability that will help to ensure a positive outcome for your meetings. You can adopt these as they are, change them to suit you and your team, or come up with your own. The important thing is that everyone agrees to follow them. And the buck starts here with you – the leader.

Communication Ground Rules

1. Don’t interrupt when others are speaking

2. Give everyone equal “air time”; don’t monopolize the discussion

3. No outside interruptions (cell phones, etc.)

4. Be respectful of other people’s opinions

5. Address the issue, don’t attack the person

6. Listen carefully for the meaning in what others say

7. Don’t generalize; be specific when you state an idea or criticism

8. Express your acceptance and support of others, even if you disagree with an idea

9. Ask questions if you don’t understand something

10. Keep your comments on point

Accountability Ground Rules

1. Have an agenda and a set of ground rules. Review both of these at the beginning of each meeting, and uphold them.

2. Clearly designate a meeting facilitator; someone must take ownership and don’t assume that everyone knows who it is.

3. Institute a clear process for setting and confirming meeting dates, times and locations.

4. Assign someone to take minutes, and that person must commit to when he or she will deliver the minutes to the rest of the group. Rotate this position through the group.

5. Have a mechanism in place for addressing long-winded storytelling and getting back on track (e.g., who has permission to interrupt that person?).

6. Have a mechanism in place for decision making (e.g., by consensus). Who will be the tie breaker? What is the time limit for coming to a group decision?

7. Once you’ve made a group decision, stick to it. Write up corporate policies and display them with actionable items in bold, larger colors and fonts that stand out.

8. Begin each meeting by closing the loop on (being accountable for) what was discussed/committed to from the last meeting.

9. During the meeting, when a person or group is assigned to accomplish a task, have them immediately schedule time in their calendar to work on that task.

10. Close each meeting with a recap of what was discussed and what commitments were made. Clearly state the action steps, who is responsible for them, and the timeline.

Do meetings have a bad rap in your company? Then they probably deserve it. Are you ready to turn that around?

Alan Dobzinski is a Master Certified Coach (there are only 624 in the entire world!), America’s Accountability Expert™, Certified Corporate Meeting Facilitator and Executive Business Strategist specializing in working with Family Owned Businesses and Professional Services Firms with a full-time private practice in Baltimore, MD and Delray Beach, FL.

Alan Dobzinski has helped hundreds of clients over his 25 years of experience.  Alan works with executives, managers, and business owners who want to increase sales, productivity, and profitability worldwide by creating a culture of Motivational Accountability™.

Mr. Dobzinski writes and speaks regularly on how to increase your business profitability through Motivational Accountability™  and how to S.P.E.E.D. your way to a Better Bottom Line.  He is the author of The Buck Starts Here.  To get Alan’s free e-mail series:  “7 Strategies In 7 Minutes” from Alan’s Motivational Accountability System visit