What Have We Learned Today?

I recently had the opportunity to be a “fly on the wall,” as the saying goes, during a number of 2011 business strategy meetings with companies both large and small.  Many of the items discussed included people – finding, recruiting, and retaining them.  It was amazing to watch these groups file into the room, spend hours discussing recruiting strategies and tactics, and walk out of the room without asking a major question: “What have we learned today?”

42-17626624Anyone who leads a business meeting should ask each attendee the same question at the end of each planning session, training session, update meeting, etc.  You get the point!  If you do ask this simple yet effective question, be prepared for some surprising responses.  Too many meetings today, especially in recruitment circles, seem to be an exercise in futility with little to nothing of substance accomplished because no one learned anything new.  The person leading the meeting may think the information is important and relevant, however; the rest of the meeting attendees are often left in a fog.  If you get the courage to ask the simple question of “What have we learned today?” be prepared for answers or responses you may not want to hear.  Oh, and don’t forget to ask yourself the same question!

  • The Passive Participant: “I understand the purpose of the meeting was sort of, kind of about, oh, you know….”
  • The Passive Aggressive Participant: “The meeting was good.” All the while rolling his/her eyes. Translation: A waste of my valuable time.
  • The Political Participant: “This was the best meeting ever – I get it and I know what to do.” As he or she thinks: “Oh crap! I have to find someone who can figure out what we’re supposed to do.”
  • The Practical Participant: “I understand your position however I have some additional questions. Why are you doing……? Does that really make the most sense?”

Success and failure generally hinges on the clarity of the goals and who has to do what and by when.  Does this come out of meetings with your teams?

Most recruiters do not get up in the morning, get out of bed and say, “I can’t wait to get to work so I can screw up!”  Unfortunately many recruiters don’t understand the immediate objective at hand or what direction they should take in meeting it.

Most goals and objectives are first introduced in a meeting where reasonably intelligent people gather to combine their ideas and develop a strategy or plan.  If the goals are not appropriately communicated to the recruiting team, your staffing initiatives are sure to crash and burn.

When conducting strategy sessions, update meetings, or the like, there are a few basics that can make all of us better communicators and ensure attainment of common goals:

  • Create an Agenda. Most meeting leaders know they should have an agenda for each meeting but few follow their own outline. Often someone will bring up a topic out of the blue and the meeting turns into a free for all and ends as a pointless exercise of how not to do it. I, myself, have contemplated making my entire team stand through a meeting, forcing all of us to get to the point before our backs begin to ache and feet turn numb.
  • Prepare for your Agenda. There is an old saying: “Chance favors those who prepare.” After preparing your agenda, are you spending enough time flushing out what you really want to convey and what reaction you want to solicit? You can’t just throw a topic at the wall and hope something sticks.
  • Limit your Agenda. It’s not unusual for a manager to try and stuff 10 pounds of topics in a 5 pound bag. Keep the agenda manageable, focusing on the most important topics first. Make a practice of staying on track while watching the clock as if you are playing in a basketball game and must score the point you need before the final buzzer sounds.
  • Record your Results. Always appoint an active participant in the meeting, not just the administrative assistant, as the scribe. Rotate the responsibility among your team members who attend the sessions. It’s amazing how people stay alert and think before they speak when they know their comment may be recorded. Finally, share the completed notes from every meeting with all attendees by the next morning.
  • Assign Responsibility. Assign accountability to the individuals with a due date for each task. After a completion date is assigned the person responsible can say if they can’t make the deadline, what they can’t do is ignore the assignment and pretend it never happened.

At the conclusion of your next recruiting staff meeting go around the table and ask “What have you learned today?” If YOU don’t ask, THEY won’t tell, and YOU will never know!

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