Overcoming Meeting Mania

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

My company is going to win the award for “Meeting Mania.” When clients want to meet, I can’t accommodate them because of all the meetings we are required to attend: update meetings, investment meetings, focus groups, team breakouts, etc. It’s crazy, and I am not productive in this environment. How can I stop the insanity of these meetings?

Tom C., New York

Dear Tom,

This is a frustrating merry-go-round; companies want to communicate but then they go overboard with too many meetings, so the staff has no time to get the work done – and then management sends them to a “time management” workshop! I know, because we are often asked to run these workshops.

There are two pieces to your question –are the meetings really necessary and are the right people being asked to attend?  Some firms include everyone because they don’t want to risk leaving someone out.  You need to make sure you only have the “must know” list attending. If others in the firm need to know the information at a later date, assign people to be the carriers of that information back to the rest of the team.

Practice good meeting skills. This is the place most meetings go awry. It’s not the meeting itself per se, it’s the way the meeting is prepared, managed and followed up on that creates the problems. Never have a meeting without an agenda, circulated at least two days in advance so people can adequately prepare. This is especially important if you are going to ask for feedback or contributions. Next, share the agenda at the outset and ask for changes/updates, etc. Assign time allocations to each section so that participants know roughly what to expect. Assign a time keeper who is responsible for keeping presenters to their allotted time. Have a recorder who is taking notes and responsible for any follow-up to attendees.

Never leave a meeting without establishing specific next steps. What will you do? When will you do it? What are the checkpoints? How will you stay on track? Confirm, confirm and then follow up in writing about what you have confirmed. Productive meetings are very beneficial. You don’t need fewer meetings; you need better managed meetings with structure and facilitation. Good luck!

Dear Bev,

I know I am not using social media the way I should. I read that I should be active on LinkedIn(LI) . I have a profile and I search to find people.  But what does it mean to be “active”? How can I use LinkedIn more effectively? My b/d has a very strict compliance approach, so please don’t tell me to blog or write commentary about the markets.

Joan D., White Plains, NY

Dear Joan,

It’s not fair when the questioner takes away my potential answers! So I will have to come up with something other than using LI to blog and post commentary.

Here are a few things that can work to help you stay active. Search for groups on LI to find people who are of “like minds” to you. You don’t necessarily have to post comments to these groups, but you can read what others are writing, see who the members are and from time to time make an innocuous (i.e., compliance friendly) comment to stay actively involved. In group lists you can look at others’ profiles and if you see someone you would like to know, you can send an InMail asking to talk with them.

You can post, to your own profile, articles of interest that you have read or links to websites you find useful or interesting. Posting a comment means you show up on the people’s lists with whom you are LinkedIn.

Also, be sure your profile is complete and you are showing the 100% completion bar. If not, find ways to add to your profile. Have you selected all of your areas of expertise? Have you posted books you find useful? Have you filled in all of your professional and educational background? Watch the postings of those people who you know. When someone has taken a new job or updated their profile, send them a note of congratulations or inquiry. Stay active with your contacts so that they remember you and what you do.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers.  She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.


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