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Make Meetings Less Hateful And More Productive

Make Meetings Less Hateful And More Productive

When many people envision meetings, they picture a boss or supervisor spouting off demands and statistics for an extended period of time while employees stare mindlessly toward the head of the room. These meetings can be an enormous waste of time if bosses don’t involve employees, and the employees lack focus and dedication to the completion of a specific agenda. But when meetings are interactive, focused, and well-scheduled, they can be incredibly productive. Three aspects to focus on when putting together an office meeting are:

1. Making them memorable

Each meeting should stand out on its own in order to make it unique and worth remembering. Schedule meetings for odd times, such as 9:17 rather than 9:15 or 9:30. Communications manager of TINY Pulse Neal MacNamara explains that consistently scheduling meetings at 8:48 has “eliminated tardiness almost completely” within his company. Such a simple change will keep employees on their toes the morning of the meeting, and no one will come in dragging their feet a few minutes late.

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Use ice breakers to begin the meeting, but have them relate directly to the current agenda. Give employees time to get their thoughts out into the air, so they’re not afraid to speak up when the discussion swings toward the topic they were talking to a colleague about minutes earlier. This “connection before content” method has allowed employees at LivePerson to get to know each other better, and feel more comfortable speaking up about an issue they had been facing.

Josh Neblett, cofounder and CEO of the e-commerce company Etailz, believes the final 5-10 minutes of a meeting should be used for any questions or concerns that may have arisen throughout the meeting. Rather than telling employees to “come see me in my office if you have any questions,” this deliberate time is set in order to confront problems head on. This is especially effective because it’s likely that more than one person has a similar question, and the leader of the meeting can get the answer out to everyone right away rather than answering it individually five different times.

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2. Making them effective

All meetings should have a specific agenda that dictates exactly what topics will be discussed. CEO of Brivo Steve Van Till created “No Re-hash” ping pong paddles for all employees to use throughout a meeting when someone brings something up that has either already been discussed at length, or will detract from the agenda at hand. Instead of belaboring the point or wasting time saying “We’ve already talked about this, but if you have any questions…”, other members of the meeting can simply raise the paddle, and the speaker will know to save what he has to say until he can speak with the boss privately.

Other offices have implemented punishments for coming in late to meetings. These punishments aren’t severe; rather, they are humorous and embarrassing ways to deal with interruptions and tardiness. One company forces latecomers to walk in singing a nursery rhyme or other song, which, of course, makes them uncomfortable when the focus shifts from serious business to such a menial interruption. Another company has implemented a policy which forces employees to donate to the company charity if their cell phone goes off and interrupts a meeting. These detractors certainly work more than any actual discipline would while still maintaining a high sense of employee morale.

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3. Making them short

Everyone likes short meetings, right? Well, all meetings could be short if the time is used effectively. While employees should be held accountable for their timeliness and attentiveness during meetings, the person who called the meeting is the one who needs to have effective time management skills in order to be effective. Having (and sticking to) a clear, concise agenda is the first step in putting together a meeting that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Many companies implement a thirty-minute timer, knowing that people are hard-wired to be able to focus for only 25-30 minutes at a time, and anything over that time period will go in one ear and out the other. You may also consider ‘punishments’ have been implemented for running over time, such as donating to the company charity or holiday party jar. This way both attendees and the people running the meeting have to adhere to the time restriction.

Conclusion

Meetings have a bad rap because they often detract from a company’s productivity, which is the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do. Like all other progressive and innovative measures taken in the business world today, revamping the structure of meetings by thinking outside the box allows leaders to make efficient use of meetings, and makes sure employees get the most out of them.

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Featured photo credit: 140811-N-AF077-043 / Ash Carter via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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