A friend was looking at her work calendar and sighed because she had a week with lots of meetings scheduled. She continued to vent frustration about attending meetings that were unstructured with rude people.
Technology is a wonderful thing but the (negative) impact it has had on meeting productivity is significant.
There was a time not too long ago when meetings didn’t have the challenge and distraction of ringing cell phones, beeping text messages, emails on laptops or news updates on IPads.
I’m not suggesting that meetings then were always run well – because they weren’t. But there are definitely things a meeting team leader can do to increase participation and reduce wasted time when meeting in a group.
Anyone who has had team leader skills training, understands the concept and importance of having meeting ground rules. These meeting rules help to influence positive meeting etiquette and productivity – which is an important part of effective church management.
So what are meeting ground rules?
Meeting ground rules are simply an agreed upon list of behavior expectations for team members while participating in a meeting.
They help to hold everyone accountable for behaviors, so they can stay focused on the task at hand.
It’s pretty common for chartered committees or decision making councils to come up with ground rules. However, the day-to-day meetings that most of us endure don’t always see the value in, or take the time to, establish those behavioral expectations.
This can become frustrating for the person who is trying to facilitate the meeting.
Every organization should have meeting expectations (meeting ground rules) that should be printed and hung in every conference room.
Having said that, there always needs to be flexibility in practice. Individual teams may vary their ground rules based on the objective of the meeting and the participants involved. They may add to or take away rules.
For example, if a team is charged with coming up with a creative theme for the upcoming vacation bible school, having laptops and IPads to use as a resource for ideas may be appropriate.
Establishing meeting ground rules.
To come up with a list of group or team ground rules, simply start by communicating your list of behavior expectations as the meeting facilitator.
Then open it up to team members and see if they have anything to add. Ask them how they would like the group to interact and behave. and what they hope to gain out of participation in the group.
Have them share their own frustrating experiences when people spoke out of turn, played on their phone, or simply showed up late and unprepared. Once the group thinks about those pain points, they will quickly add their own pet peeve.
Example of Team Meeting Ground Rules
- turn off cell phones
- no side conversations
- be respectful of the ideas of others
- start and stop meeting on time
- everyone participates
- everyone comes to the meeting prepared
- no electronic devices
If you look at this list you will notice that each rule supports a focused meeting that is respectful of others without the technology distractions.
Again these are merely examples of some of the more common ground rules. Obviously every meeting, every team, every group has different goals, objectives and agendas. Which is why customizing ground rules for each meeting often makes sense.
Do you use ground rules for your meetings?
photo by: MarioGrandberry
Article originally posted September 2012, updated June, 2015.