Raising issues at meetings. Is there a better way?
It’s all in the preparation!
Many years ago during a board meeting that I was ill prepared for it dawned on me that there was a significant issue that was noted in the papers that no one had raised a question about. Being new I sat there and waited until the Chair was about to move on then asked a poorly worded question about the issue. My question was noted, we were given an answer, and we moved on.
I was not aware of the basic protocol on this board that issue identified in the papers were to be raised with the Chair prior to the meeting and the Chair would then seek clarification through the CEO. The CEO would then provide clarification during the CEO’s report at the start of the meeting.
On this occasion the Chair spoke to me after the meeting and rather eloquently outlined how I needed to do this next time. He also gave me some very good advice that many people do not seem to have heard or heed. I’ll share it now. Next time you take up a role as an executive team member or a Director and there is a doubt or question in your mind ask yourself:
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said by me?
- Does this need to be said by me now?
Of course, it may need to be said so in the end you say it. Going into a meeting well prepared, including raising questions ahead of the meeting with the Chair, has several benefits to you and the business. Here are just three:
- The meeting flows more easily and will more likely run to time.
- The session is far more engaging as you can rise above the detail on the page and get to the more important matter behind the data.
- You will gain respect from your colleagues as you are on your game.
When taking on a senior role like this your preparation is so much more important. Keep these questions in mind when reading your papers and note down your response before the meeting. You will soon develop a positive habit which will be the envy of others.
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