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Meetings that start late, run late and don't stick to the intended topic are time wasters. Conducting a meeting critique can help improve the way you and your colleagues run meetings so you can get back to the real work left sitting on your desk. A critique is a critical analysis or evaluation. Don't confuse a critique with a listing of criticisms. No one likes to be criticized. A critical analysis, however, can be more helpful than hurtful, providing you with an objective view of what's working and what's not.
Ask a respected colleague to attend your next meeting as an observer rather than a participant, with the intent of providing you with an objective assessment. Select someone who has a reputation for running effective meetings. Ask her to record her observations from the start of the meeting to when it wraps up. Schedule time with the colleague afterward to discuss what went well and what could be improved.
Allot time at the end of the meeting to ask attendees for their input, and include this group evaluation on the meeting's agenda. Depending on the nature of the meeting and the number of attendees, you might want to select a small team of evaluators rather than including the entire group. Prepare yourself by writing down a short list of specific questions. You can then request written responses or initiate a group discussion. To keep the group focused on the topic of the meeting rather than the process, don't distribute your questions in advance.
Management criteria to consider in the evaluation process should look at time and people management skills. Assess time management based on whether the meeting started and ended on time and whether all agenda topics were covered. Assess people management based on how well you moved through discussion points and whether you enabled or disabled interruptions.
Planning and Results Criteria
Planning and results criteria should focus on the meeting objectives. Assess the agenda to determine if the meeting's purpose was clearly stated and whether topic items could effectively guide participants to achieve that purpose. After looking at the agenda, look at the meeting's results. Assess meeting minutes to determine if decisions made and action items recorded can validate that the meeting's objectives were met.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.
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