28 May Are on-line meetings hijacking your time?
Are you having so many on-line team meetings, that you can’t seem to get your head above the water and ‘get the work done’? Do these meetings seem fragmented, repetitive, or ineffective? And why do they keep overrunning?
On-line meetings, when structured and ran efficiently, are fast becoming integral to a smoothly operating practice. They are a two-way street for sharing information and news, staying in touch, reporting on progress or challenges, seeking feedback and input, and decision making.
As we travel through the current crisis, we will all come to rely on this form of communication to an even greater extent; this means we need to embrace it and stay in touch with each other on a human level, not just professionally. We may not pass each other in the corridors anymore, share a walk through the car park or make a drink together in the kitchen – those unscheduled interactions that usually keep us connected – whether we realise it or not.
So that we can evolve and come through this crisis more robust, we need to get agile. Defining good housekeeping habits now will prevent delays further down the road when our main focus might be responding to a massive backlog of clinical cases and needs.
Reset the expectation
Teams need to continue to observe the general etiquette rules when communicating with each other, whatever the setting. A few we love here at Vet Dynamics are:
- Ask yourself, is this meeting necessary? Would a two- or three-way telephone or skype conversation suffice?
- Treat everyone with the same level of respect and consideration
- There are no ‘bad’ ideas or ‘silly’ questions’ – we encourage innovation, open debate and we welcome different perspectives
- Always finish on a positive note
- Make sure everyone understands any next steps they have picked up
- Agree the date and time of the next meeting, if not already scheduled
- Thank everyone for their time – it’s valuable
Re-lay the ground rules
With the basics covered, let’s look at what rules we might need to define for being on-line? For ease of use and so that you can share these with your teams, they’re in a download which you can GRAB HERE. For members, this is also in the Resource Centre.
- Be on time
Punctuality should apply to all meetings, whether it’s on-line or face to face. But bear in mind that turning up late on-line is more noticeable. When arranging the meeting, be realistic about the length so that people can plan their day.
- Test, test, test
Ensure your technology is working, and everyone is comfortable using the chosen application.
- To see or not to see
Decide as a team, whether cameras should be optional. Experience tells us that seeing our colleagues faces is far more effective and inclusive; that observing body language and facial expressions helps us be aware of mood and state. It also makes it more personal and valuable. But some people will prefer not to use video and if you all agree it’s a personal choice, respect those choices.
- Why are we here?
Make sure everyone invited knows the purpose of the meeting and what you expect them to prepare beforehand if necessary. Stating the required (and specific) outcome at the outset is ideal (ex. Report on Q3… Decide which system to… Review together clients feedback)
- A little detail goes a long way
If there are several agenda items to be covered, either send a list out to all concerned ahead of the meeting or run through them at the start to help keep some clarity (it’s even easier to go off subject, on-line!).
- Capture Actions
It’s so important to capture any actions, especially now that we might not be physically together all of the time.
If using Skype or Zoom for a meeting, nominate at the outset, who will collect the actions. That person is then responsible for writing any ‘next steps’ in the chat space along with the initials of the person picking up that action. This information will stay on the group chat so you can always refer to them or they are printable from Zoom.
- Eliminate background noise
Remember, if your system is not on mute, everyone can hear everything; the rustling of paper, typing on your keyboard, eating your breakfast – everything! Also, being on mute avoids potential sound feedback. And it soon becomes second nature un-muting yourself when you want to speak.
- One last point on being seen
If you need to get up and leave the screen during the session, it’s best (safest) to turn off your video. The odd pet walking across your desk is one thing, but it’s another altogether to have some poor unsuspecting family member get ‘caught’ on camera (!)
Re-asses – is there something deeper going on?
There could be other issues in your practice which you feel are impacting on effective collaboration. Here are a few distinct reasons why meetings go awry consistently:
- Lack of shared vision and culture
- Weak interaction through a lack of communication skills
- Lack of understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities
- Egos, plain stubbornness, or power struggles
- Lack of information to support smart decision making
If you think you need support in any of these areas, why not book a call with a practice development coach. Our coaches are skilled and experienced and can talk you through some solutions. There are numerous ways we can help you, either through our community, our CPD, our Index or coaching, please ask. You can book an initial discussion here.
Reclaim your time
To sum up, your teams deserve to get the most out of their collaborations and staying connected is essential. However, they cannot come at the price currently demanded of you all; this is not up for negotiation; let’s stick to the rules; your time is too valuable.
By Rachel Talmage