Refocus for the New Year

Happy New Year and welcome back to our blog on how to cultivate engaged employees based on the work and research of Charalambos A. Vlachoutsicos, frequent Harvard Business Review contributor and adjunct professor in the International MBA Program at Athens University of Economics and Business.  With years of experience in Soviet and European business, Vlachoutsicos has outlined 6 ways to encourage contribution and enthusiasm from your employees and today we will look at the fourth – Focus the Agenda.

How many times have you found yourself groaning at the announcement of another meeting?  How many times have you stifled your frustration at yet another meeting that went over-schedule with little accomplished?  Yes, we can all remember those meetings – but how many of your employees groan over your meetings?  While many of us enjoy hearing ourselves talk, our employees may very well be grinding their teeth as we drone on about plans, procedures, and expectations.

Vlachoutsicos found one of his best salespeople stagnating in a new office and went to investigate.  He found this highly successful salesperson leading marathon meetings with his sales force that accomplished little.  This manager had a list of 12 complex items to discuss and 2 hours.  He proceeded to allow everyone to provide input and the allotted 2 hours passed quickly with less than half the agenda addressed.  Vlachoutsicos and this manager then worked together to develop the following guidelines:

  • Sequence issues according to importance
  • Omit any issues that can be addressed outside of the meeting
  • Reduce discussion time by sending written briefings the day before to allow for thought and preparation

With these new guidelines in place, sales in the region increased and the meeting time was actually reduced.  We have probably heard best practices for conducting meetings, but have you fallen into a rut?  Do your employees or your production levels suffer because of inefficient meetings and communication?  Stop to take a look in this New Year at your processes and meeting guidelines.  Are you making the most of your employees’ time?  How can you make meetings a time to really tap into your employees’ expertise and encourage them to take action instead of merely a means of sharing information and debating issues?



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