Free Articles / Self Tests

Articles / Self Tests

Articles / Self Tests

By Bruce Lee 09 May, 2017
To view or print off this Confidential Leadership Empowerment Satisfaction/Retention Survey please click here to view the PDF .
By Bruce Lee 18 Apr, 2017
The Time Management Templates can be printed off or viewed in PDF format. Please click here to view the templates.
By Bruce Lee 18 Apr, 2017
To view or print off the Coaching Skills Self Assessment, please click here to view the PDF .
By Bruce Lee 18 Apr, 2017
Just as you have attitudes about customers, they also have attitudes about you. Each of the following characteristics play an integral part in determining the response you get from others. Evaluate yourself from several perceptions how you see yourself, how your manager sees you, how your customer sees you, and how your co-workers see you.

You can view the PDF to print out or view by clicking here.

Make copies and:
  • Complete one for yourself
  • Ask your Manager to evaluate you
  • Ask 2-3 fellow workers to evaluate you
  • Ask 3-6 patients/customers to evaluate you
  • Then compile the results on one form, and based upon an analysis of the results, focus on improving on 3 attributes of success.
By Bruce Lee 17 Apr, 2017
1. Check List #1 - Directional Strategies:

1. Choose your destiny. What legacy do you want to leave at home or work or for the charity you support?
“We all seek our reason for being” - Anonymous

The theme for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta was: “The Best Ever” and they were so successful that it became what every Olympic organizing committee following them based theirs on. The theme for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC. was: “Own the Podium” - and they did. The most Gold Medals by a host country, 14, and third overall, placing behind the US at #1 and Germany at #2 – countries with ten times and three times the population respectively.

2. Focus on creating action steps. It is not what you think about that will create the reality of your goals, it is the actual steps you take. Get out your day planner or log into your computer and start putting in dates, times and activities.

Matthew McConaughey’s “Three Things”
In his acceptance speech at the 2014 Academy Awards, Matthew McConaughey told the world how he creates his success. “There are 3 things I need each day. - - -  One is something to look up to (faith / God),
  • One is something to look forward to (his family / mom’s self respect - and the family he created)
  • And one is something to chase (his better person in 10 years).” We should all do a future self-exercise – and call it goals. How do you visualize yourself so you can achieve it”? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

3. Momentum. Just start, build on small successes. Check the Time Management workshop for 5 options of how to do this. Think of the Movie” What About Bob?” and his little tiny baby steps to get to his big scary objectives every time.

4. Measure. The truth is, what gets measured, gets done. Start by setting realistic goals. Another way of looking at it, you can’t improve on what you don’t measure. Want to lose weight, weigh yourself every day, it works to track it.

5. The Law of Abundance. While this is not an actual “law”, it is a good attitude to adopt. You can create just as big a success as you set out. Think big and act on it.

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” - Oprah Winfrey

6. Key Questions: Ask and measure these three questions:
  • Morning - what will I do today to accomplish my O.N – optimistic numbers?
  • Afternoon – what did I actually do today to accomplish my optimistic numbers?          
  • Did I trade this day for what I want – am I closer to my goals?

2. Check List #2 - Question Your Results:

  1. What am I doing at work or home that really doesn’t need to be done – ever? Think of the time / benefit ratio. Would the time spent doing the task create value for you or can you hire someone for less fee to do it better and free you up to do what you do better? For example, should you cut the grass and clean the rugs or earn an income at twice what you would pay someone to do that for you? Children (yours of your neighbors) can be a good source of labor, and enjoy getting paid.
  2. What am I doing that could or should be done by someone else? Who can you delegate to? Who needs cross training to fill in when someone is away so I don’t have to do it? Understand the Situational Leadership Matrix.
  3. What am I doing that could be done more efficiently, more effectively and more quickly now? Literally every day new digital resources are being launched to process paper work and information compiled and processed faster, reducing time and costs. Check with experts and stay informed. Set up Google Alerts on that topic.
  4. What am I doing that wastes the time of others? So often we create activities for employees that take them away from our core business. As General Norman Swarzekopf says in his book: ‘It Doesn’t Take a Hero’ - “No repainting the flagpole”. Do what matters now and make it meaningful to the employee.
  5. How does my use of time match up with my priorities? This means what are you doing to become dispensable? That means being able to move up or out of the company to a better position. This is not being indispensible; meaning no one else knows how to do your job so you can’t move up or out.

3. Check List #3 - Prime Time Questions:

‘Prime Time’ is a well know time management concept that is an hour (or more if needed) when you have no interruptions in order to focus on big tasks and planning. The five questions that you need to ask and answer are:

  1. What three things this week should I be doing to further my career?
  2. What major activities / tasks should I be concerned about in my Department?
  3. What should I focus on next week in order to move toward my personal goals?
  4. What future problems can I avoid by taking action now?
  5. What are the tasks that are not assigned to me as of yet, but which I should get assigned as they really do matter?

Someone once said: Three Simple Rules in Life
  1. If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
  2. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.
  3. If you do not step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.

Peter Drucker, the management guru, said:

“The important and difficult job is never to find the right answer, it is to find the right question.”

This really means not accepting things as they are or appear to be, but what would it take to create the new reality. The right question can change the future. Try it: “What if….?”

4. Check List #4 - Making Today Work For You

1. Replace perfectionism with excellence. Perfectionists take too long to start the task. Excellence means starting and continuous improvement. For example, when you start to exercise, start by doing something and be sure to measure / time it. The next time, go for a little longer time or more reps, and each time after that, do more. To ensure you start and keep to it, write it down on your calendar.  

2. Love what you do. Enthusiasm is contagious, get excited about the job and it will go faster.

3. Make a commitment. A personal initiative to continually do what you say you are going to do. This becomes your reputation – and if it is good makes so many things easier for you.    

"Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows." Michael Landon, 1936-1991, Actor

4. Expect the best. Create your vision for the future. Expect the best, you get the best - expect the worst, you get to be right.

The Pygmalion Effect. When we expect better or great behaviour from people, we get it. This principal of action and behaviour says that as we communicate our high level of expectations of people to them, they will respond to it by changing their behaviour. We can see that the other way around by how we communicate with young children by adapting our communication style, words, volume, to get their attention to do something we want them to do. They will start mimicking the behaviour that works for them better too.

5. Commit to Continuous Learning. Keep learning how to better your career.

6. Adopt a mentor. Figure out who you admire, that is successful in the area you want more advice on, then ask them if you can take them for lunch or dinner and ask them some questions. If they say yes, great. Then ask them to mentor you. Successful people like to be asked to help and if they can, they will. Choose well.

7. Create a pocket of excellence. Regardless of what is going on around you at work, be the best you can be.       “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships         we are afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

8. Control. Don’t let the things you can’t control, interfere with the things that you can control. Keep working on the goals that matter to you, your career and family.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain / Samuel Clements

9. Daily Summary. Ask yourself at the end of every day: “What ideas, skills, improvements or systems did I learn today that will make me more effective in serving others tomorrow”?

10. Just Do It. Go for it.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford

5. Check List #5 - How to Empower People

1. Ask yourself: “What do I see when I look my people in the eyes? Do you see caring, committed, engaged and empowered people who know what to do, or people who need to be told what to do all the time, and be checked up on?

2. Treat your people as your greatest asset. They are. And they are an increasing asset as they learn more and take on more responsibility.

3. Understand that people are motivated for their reasons, not yours. Your job is to figure out what motivates people and keep those motivators in front of them – and it may surprise you what actually does. How do you find out? Ask them.

4. Communicate well. Communication is 100% sending (questions) / 100% listening. Lack of communication is the #1 cause of workplace conflict, low morale and mistakes. “From listening comes wisdom.”

5. Replace rules with judgment. Let people use their common sense in dealing with people – like you expect to.

6. Pay attention to the small signs of respect. That is simple things like please and thank you, all the way up to recognition on special days such as birthdays or anniversaries. It is paying attention when someone walks in your office. It is not checking messages on your phone in front of people.   “People don’t care about how much you know, Until they know about how much you care”                        

7. Pick an ideal that takes the imagination by storm. Be significant. What gets you excited may just be what gets others excited. What is new and needed?        

“Significance means service, doing things that impact people in a beneficial way. It is not just going out there and bragging about a certain   thing you have done, but showing people how they can apply it to their lives and improve something. That to me is what significance is all about.” Dr. Mehmet Oz, ‘Dr. Oz’ on TV

8. Set bold goals. What bold goal would you set if you knew you would not fail? As Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” and you will pretty well succeed in any goal you set. Make sure it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal, otherwise it is just a wish.

S – Specific. Means a number attached to it: By Jan. 30th. 2017 I want $100,000.00 in my investment account. It is clear of the who/what/where/when and sometimes even why?
M – Measurable – you can see the number. At 50,000 you know you are half way to that success. Progress or not, on track or not or you need to pick up the pace?
A – Attainable – realistic/achievable - based on what to do and will do – action. The time / benefit ratio and progress.
R – Realistic / Relevant – believable, better than your previous best and something you really want.
T – Time Related – there’s a deadline attached to it, sense of urgency.

9. Light a fire of intense burning desire.

Conceive the idea – what would you like to do? A burning desire to accomplish? Maybe it’s your newly discovered life purpose.
Believe in yourself and abilities – have the self-confidence in yourself to get started. Think ‘little tiny baby steps’ from the “What About Bob” movie – and just start.
Achieve the results – create it, keep at it. Set a deadline, plan it out, set the milestones to measure the success. If necessary, hire a coach. Take a time management course to prove to you what your priorities are.

10. Practice “The Greatest Management Principe in the World”                 

‘Things that get recognized and rewarded, get repeated.”

When you recognize or acknowledge good behavior, you get more of it. When you don’t recognize bad behavior, and you allow that to be the culture of the office.

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others, belong to us as well.” Voltaire, 1694-1778, Philosopher & Writer
By Bruce Lee 17 Apr, 2017
Employment recruitment tactics are changing. New younger, professional employees no longer automatically take what companies offer without question. They are more assertive and demanding about having life balance. When it comes to compensation benefits, organizations have to think outside the box in order to attract new employees.

The Situation : The ongoing and increasing skilled labor shortage will continue to drag company productivity and profitability down. Most engineering and oil and gas companies have a backlog of work and not enough employees to complete the projects. Overtime is needed, delays are the norm, budget overruns are common. What do successful companies offer in order to stand out from the competition in order to attract new employees and retain more of the ones you currently have? With overseas mega projects recruiting Canadian talent to build their projects, the stakes are high.

The Solution : The starting point is a competitive salary which continues to escalate upward. In many cases bonuses of up to 35% of the salary are necessary to attract employees to locate to remote locations. To be really successful, you need to offer a competitive benefits package that is valued by the recipients – without creating an attitude of entitlement, otherwise loyalty decreases.

The Trends : Lets review some of the trends in the oil patch today. The key new one is Health Care Spending Accounts instead of cash bonuses. This gives employees the opportunity to be consulted in picking and choosing from a flexible package range the benefits specific to their needs today and alter them as their career path changes. For example, early in the career, orthodontics might be a higher percentage of the dollars allocated and then later in life, a switch to vision, massage and chiropractic care. With some companies you can take in cash what you don’t use of the allotted amount or transfer to pension plans.

Vacation pay is being increased. What was the industry standard of two weeks for new hires is now almost universally three weeks and after being employed two years you get four vacation weeks. One company is recognizing previous industry experience to be counted toward your years of experience. Another has a formula of your age less 20 to determine vacation weeks based on two weeks for every ten years. For example, a person aged 50, less 20, equals 30, so with two weeks for every 10, gets you six vacation weeks.

Days Off : An industry leading company in Canada recently started giving every employee two Fridays a month off, 24 in total. To earn this, you take either a shorter lunch hour or work an extra 30 minutes the rest of the week. Other companies offer new employees a range of from five up to 17 paid personal days off every year.

RRSP’s : Matching of from 3 1/2 % up to 6% of annual salary and some match up to an additional 5% in savings plans. Profit sharing for everybody in some companies linked to company profitability.

Maternity Top Up Benefits : Increasingly seen is maternity top-up benefits of up to 100% for 36 weeks for new parents and adoptive parents.

Other industry specifics are :
  • 10 discretionary flex days – no questions asked
  • Adding a paid day to long weekends
  • Work extra hours to get every summer Friday off
  • Corporate offices shut down for up to 10 days over Christmas
  • Company car and parking lot allowance
  • Health club membership and scheduled time in work day to attend
  • On site fitness facilities and a professional fitness trainer provided
  • Phased in retirement leave programs
  • $200.00 a month health spending account to spend how you want
  • On site day care and on site room to house students during teacher Professional Development days. One sources senior care facilities
  • Scholarships for children entering University
  • On site dinning room with subsidized prices
  • Birthday - one paid day off, even if it falls on a weekend or holiday.
  • Compassion leave – 3 – 8 paid days, more if travel required
  • Finders fees – up to $3,000.00 for referring new employees who stay
  • Parental leave – men can take more time off for newborns
  • Happy Staff – lots of recognition events such as new babies and birthdays
  • Education – more in house training and off site courses with tuition fully paid to drive up competencies and productivity

Performance Contracts : To ensure employees appreciate the above average industry benefits and at the same time improve personal productivity and ownership, one company has each employee sign a ‘High Performance Contract’. This sets goals and objectives for them that are in sync with their supervisors and it is reviewed quarterly up to four times a year, depending on their experience level.

This article was created by Bruce Lee who is an event speaker, author, productivity coach and MC. His passion is working with individuals and organizations to enhance their leadership results and individual productivity through strategic planning sessions and hands on workshops in business acceleration that will improve the bottom line, increase market share and employee and customer loyalty and retention. Each keynote or workshop he presents includes a variety of additional resources and tools after to support the training and measure new skill levels.
By Bruce Lee 17 Apr, 2017
1. Must Do’s
- Keep reviewing Alan Laiken’s question: “Is this (activity you are about to do) the best use of my time?”
  1. Ask yourself Townsend's question: "Is what I am doing, or about to do, moving me toward my objectives?"
  2. Set high expectations for each and every day.
  3. Decide to stop procrastinating on large tasks.
  4. Rewrite your personal goals and activities, and reprioritize them at least every three months. The world changes, we change and so must our goals. Consult your family on the validity of the goals for them. Think 5 years out.
  5. Get at least 10 minutes of programmed exercise every day; and throughout the day use every opportunity to walk, stand, climb stairs, bend over, etc. This promotes health, and increases your "Prime Time" by reducing fatigue.

2. Office Organization
- Start by clarifying your personal and professional priorities.
  1. Focus on income generating emails and letters or proposals as your priority at the start of the day.
  2. Place every task into one of the Priority Matrix quadrants.
  3. Focus to eliminate the top 10 Time Wasters
  4. Write it down. Do your thinking on paper. You will make quicker and better decisions if you write down the pros and cons of a line of action.
  5. Discuss time management with your boss and with your coworkers and determine what you can do as individuals and as a team to use time more effectively.
  6. Think of the Pareto Principal – the critical few versus the trivial many – where to spend the time and energy?
  7. Keep a Time Log then ask yourself: What am I doing that can be done better by someone else?
  8. Control time spent in meetings. Do you need to be there? Can you submit a report? Can you turn up at a certain time and leave after? If running the meeting, start and end on time in respect of others time.
  9. If you find it difficult to get any "quiet time," try to arrive at the office before anyone else, to gain uninterrupted time for planning and other tasks.
  10. File, file, file! Avoid clutter. Keep everything you are not working on out of your immediate working area and out of sight, if possible. Always tidy up your desk and work area before leaving the office.
  11. "Let your fingers do the walking/surfing" before running errands for personal items or office supplies. Phone to compare prices, determine availability, hours of operation, specials, if they deliver or not, etc.
  12. Write a memo to yourself, for future reference, whenever you have completed a difficult task which is going to recur. You will benefit from an experience when you have a written record of mistakes and lessons learned.
  13. Work on only one item at a time.
  14. If a conversation on the phone is dragging on, try standing up. Your conversations will be shorter.
  15. Establish your lowest productivity hour as "interruptions" hour. Encourage your subordinates to see you then.
  16. Try to avoid being placed on hold on the telephone. It takes less time to call back.
  17. Hire specialists / consultants so you don’t have to invent the wheel.
  18. Take a Speed Reading or Memory Techniques course so you can learn to read routine material more rapidly. 
  19. Never put uncompleted activities from today at the top of tomorrow's "to do" list. You must reprioritize them.
  20. Never do errands at work on impulse. Plan your route carefully, handling as many errands as possible each time at lunch, or going to and from work. Can the activity be pushed back a day or two to be more convenient?
  21. Don’t be afraid to give yourself time to relax, to meditate and “blue sky”. This allows you to relax, become less stressed and more creative.

3. Subordinates
- The people closest to the job know the best way to improve it – ask them for suggestions.
  1. Always delegate slightly more than what you feel the subordinate is capable of handling – set high goals.
  2. If you are always "putting out fires" ask yourself after each crisis: (a) Why did it occur? (b) What can be done to prevent its recurrence? and (c) If it does recur, how can I handle it better next time?
  3. Expect others to succeed; it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  4. Don’t micro-manage others. It is frustrating for them and time-consuming for you.
  5. Calculate what you and each of your subordinates are worth per minute so tasks receive a cost / benefit look.
  6. As often as possible provide written instructions to subordinates to prevent interruptions for both of you.
  7. Since your own time use is tied to the effectiveness of those with whom you work, arrange a time management seminar for your entire organization, so that you can mount a concerted attack on wasted time.
  8. When you go to work, pretend you don't know anything. What you will learn from asking and listening will save you a great deal of time. Jack Welch built GE to a huge corporation by asking lots of questions to the front line.

4. Paperwork
- Remember Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the allotted time.
  1. In handling correspondence, consider answering routine letters and memos on the original. Change “To” to “From” and “From” to “To”, make your notes, run through the office copier for your own records, and returning the original to the sender.
  2. Purge your files annually. You'll be able to find needed items quicker and will save on storage costs.
  3. Create "slush files”. Have a specific place to put all papers which are not important enough to file permanently, but which you feel uncomfortable about throwing away just yet.
  4. Set up a desk date file (sometimes called a future file, a suspense file, or a tickler file) to provide an automatic method of bringing papers to your attention on specific dates in the future.
  5. Use window envelopes where appropriate for correspondence, saving time of second typing of name and address.
  6. Except for file cabinets and your desk, remove from your office any item on which you accumulate paperwork.
  7. Divide seemingly overwhelming tasks into small increments and attack them one at a time.
  8. Do one task each day that you don't like to do. It's good discipline and it will help you through the tough times. It will force you to make the decisions you should make on a timely basis.

5. At Home
 - Where do you want to spend your time? Think of the Dr. Leo Buscaglia quote: “Live everyday as if it were your last – you never know when you’re going to be right.”
  1. Plan each night what you are going to wear the next day, and lay it out ahead of time.
  2. Hire someone else to do yard work, housework, and other routine home chores where possible.
  3. Plan your TV viewing a week ahead to be more selective. Never turn on a TV set just "to see what's on."
  4. Consider moving closer to your place of work. If you saved just 15 minutes on commuting time each way, you would gain an additional three weeks of home life or working time per year!
  5. On the weekend, plan and schedule your personal chores and errands for the next week.

6. Traveling
  1. Purchase or borrow from your library, CD’s or cassette tapes on time management, leadership, self-motivation, and similar subjects, as well as any which are available in your professional field, and listen to them whenever you are traveling in your vehicle.
  2. Carry a portable recorder when traveling or making calls. It is the most convenient way of making detailed notes following a phone conversation, or while driving or flying.
  3. Buy paperback books; remove a chapter at a time, and read it during your waiting times.

What are the good habits taking you closer to success or the bad habits holding you back? Created by Bruce Lee 403 – 241 – 6212
By Bruce Lee 17 Apr, 2017
International Left Handers Day is August 13th. Sinister is almost verbatim for left-handed - a compliment! Gauche - French for left - meaning clumsy. Left friendly sports: Swimming / horses. Left handed execs earn 5% more than right handed ones. Initially prepared by Bruce from 3 sources, including Patrick’s daily calendar, July 8/97. Incas revered left handed people, saw them as bringing good fortune!

Bruce can be reached at 403 – 241- 6212 or for additions or corrections. Left hander newsletter:
By Bruce Lee 17 Apr, 2017
Do you have trouble remembering names? Lots of people do and pay the price for it embarrassment and potential loss of business. How would you like to be able to remember the name of every person you meet, regardless of whether you are meeting him or her in a personal or professional context?

The answer to improving long-term name memory is a simple and effective system called "The L.I.S.T.E.N. Name Memory Formula originally created by Brian Lee and edited down to the abbreviated L.I.S.'N. version.

"L" is for LISTEN

Listen carefully to the person's name when introduced. Pronounce both names correctly immediately. When most people are being introduced to someone new, they are listening to make sure their own name is said correctly. Because we don't focus on the other person's name, we don't hear it. More importantly, if we don't say their name back to them to ensure accuracy, it does not go into our short-term memory. Saying the name out loud, a practice also known as "auditory reassurance," is key to getting it right. Focus on their name, not yours. Memory is the art of repetition - but you have to pay attention.

"I" is for INITIATE

Initiate, ask fun questions about their name. Even if it's not obvious, ask the origin (is that Irish?), what it means (you will be surprised by what people tell you), whether they are related to someone with a similar name. Most people like to be asked questions about their name, especially if it is unusual or difficult to pronounce. In my case, questions come almost automatically. "Bruce Lee? Thought you were dead." Are you related to the actor Bruce Lee?" "Do you know Kung Fu?" These kinds of exchanges make for a fun and memorable introduction. Because you ask questions, you hear stories, which creates more connections in the brain and gives better retention. Memory is association .

If the person has a really difficult name, ask how they spell it. That way you mentally see it and hear it. In effect, you are practicing it. Anyone who has a difficult name does not mind you asking how to say it, as getting it right is a sign of respect at the start of a new relationship.

"S" is for SAY IT OFTEN

Use their name three times in your first meeting, taking advantage of this opportunity to talk to them about them. The first time is when you are first introduced and you say back their name for clarification. "Cindy Crawford, so nice to meet you." The second time is somewhere in the conversation where you can use both names, without seeming obvious: "So, when Cindy Crawford is not at these events, what do you do in the real world?" Or, "So, Cindy Crawford, what is it that interests you about this event today?"

"N" is for NOTE 4 FACTS

This is the best tip! Write four identifiers about your meeting and conversation on the person's business card. To obtain their card, offer your own first. The next time you meet the person you will remember them. This makes a great impression and says, "You are important to me." Here are the F.A.CT.S. of what to jot down.

F - Facial Feature . Who do they look, walk or sound / talk like? I used to be told I looked like Dick Clark or Jack Nicholson, so I changed my hairstyle.

A - Activity and facility . For example, "Our training day, Westin Hotel" C - Contact date and City. "Calgary, July 8th. 2014."

T - Topic of greatest interest . What was the most important item they talked about? A new consulting project? Their favorite vacation spot?

That's it! A simple formula for name memory that will stay with you. If you become interested in a new person and apply the above strategy, you will increase your attitude towards them, your own self-confidence and your reputation with others.            

Attention, Association and Repetition. That's all it takes.

This article was created by Bruce Lee who is an event speaker, author, productivity coach and MC. His passion is working with individuals and organizations to enhance leadership results and individual productivity through strategic planning sessions and hands on workshops in business acceleration that will improve the bottom line, increase market share and employee and customer loyalty and retention. Each keynote or workshop he presents includes a variety of additional resources and tools after that will further support the training - and measure new skill levels.
By Bruce Lee 17 Apr, 2017
Meetings can be the greatest asset or the greatest time waster. Here are seven golden rules on how to run these gatherings more effectively. W hen was the last time you went to a meeting at your office, or at your client's office, knowing it was going to be a waste of time?

You can very easily take control of meetings and get results. Meetings are supposed to be a way of: (1) sharing information, (2) creating and brainstorming ideas, (3) making and/or implementing decisions, and (4) ensuring everyone who should contribute actually gets heard. Keep these objectives in mind. Time is a precious resource -- don't waste it in unproductive meetings.

Here are seven attributes of effective and productive M.E.E.T.I.N.G.s that you should master.

M -- Meeting Decision . Decide if it is really necessary to hold it, and if you should attend. Remember that not all meetings need to be held, especially if there is no new business, if key people will not be there, if necessary information will not be ready, or if the reason for holding the meeting is no longer viable. Keep asking yourself, "Is this the best use of my time and my client's time?"

E -- Effective Organization . Take the time to plan and organize. Chances are you have attended numerous unorganized meetings. To avoid this in your own meetings you must ensure that there is a proper system in place. An agenda prepared and circulated well in advance is crucial. Also, choose a convenient location that has the proper amenities and environment.

E -- Excellent Attendance . Ensure everyone who should be there, is there, and that they are prepared to participate. Here are some steps to make it happen.

  • The agenda sent out before the meeting should identify clearly who is to do what at the meeting, covering everything from reporting information to contributing resources. It should also indicate what decisions will be made.
  • Make sure the agenda includes the date, the time, and the location.
  • If the meeting is a regularly scheduled meeting or part of a series of meetings, ensure it is consistent with others.

One of the things that launches a meeting well, is to do a "Good News Report" after   the meeting is called to order. Go around the table and each person quickly mentions "the best thing that has happened to me since the last meeting, both personally and professionally." This tactic charges the room with renewed interest, and creates a better understanding among the people you are sharing time with. Try it, but start with the best attitudes around the table first!

T -- Target Objectives . Zero in on the things you really want to accomplish. A wellplanned agenda is the tool you will need. Have extra copies for those who always turn up without it. If you are in charge, get to the room early and ensure it is set up properly. Call the meeting to order on time; if you wait for stragglers, not only do you penalize those who were on time, you waste everyone else's time at $$$ per minute, and conversely you reward those who arrive late. If a meeting tends to ramble on beyond the scheduled ending time, then schedule the end to be exactly lunch break time!

Make sure you share the objectives for the meeting with everyone. Give priority to timesensitive issues and be aware of a logical sequence for items on the list; how they were placed on the agenda may no longer be current in terms of priority.

I -- Independent Chairperson . Ensure that he or she knows the role. An effective chairperson is a must. The individual running the meeting should be prepared to be just that. Their goal is to create a sense of urgency, efficiency, and knowledge. They ensure participants share facts, not opinions, and keep the meeting focused and moving. Summarizing major points, including liberal use of a whiteboard or flip chart to record points, to list options and votes on choices, is part of the chairperson's role.

Most importantly, the chair observes how members react to the comments of others and how discussion affects the group as a whole. He or she should actively listen when others are talking, and make notes on good ideas so that they don't get dropped. Sometimes an idea spoken can change the whole result of the meeting if it is captured.

Sometimes disagreements occur between people with strong personalities. To ensure the meeting does not break down, ask other participants with strong opinions about what they think would work or be fair. If no compromise can be reached quickly, break off the discussion for a set period of time. A useful tactic to ensure everyone speaks and is heard in a meeting is to alternate going round the table starting on the chairperson's right, then on his or her left.

When you're closing the meeting, summarize the actions to be taken (this can be done by the chairperson or the person recording the minutes). The chairperson's final words should acknowledge everybody for their participation and contribution.

N -- Need for Rules . Attendees should be aware of the basic rules, protocols, and procedures. Depending on how large the meeting is, be prepared to take votes and to use common Parliamentary procedure to approve projects, minutes, reports, and activities.   A good resource is: O. Garfield Jones' “Parliamentary Procedure At A Glance” (Penguin Books, 1991).

G -- Great Follow Up , the most important part! The minutes need to show who was there, what was discussed, what decisions were made, actions to be taken (next steps), and who is responsible for the noted actions. Also, the next meeting date, time and place need to be included.

On your own, seek constructive feedback as to how participants felt the meeting went, and what could have been improved upon. In particular, if there is someone who is always causing problems, be prepared to talk with them to ensure their behavior improves for the next meeting (but that is another article).

This article was created by Bruce Lee who is an event speaker, author, productivity coach and MC. His passion is working with individuals and organizations to enhance leadership results and individual productivity through strategic planning sessions and hands on workshops in business acceleration that will improve the bottom line, increase market share and employee and customer loyalty and retention. Each keynote or workshop he presents includes a variety of additional resources and tools after that will further support the training - and measure new skill levels.

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