Get Ready! It’s the Newest and Biggest Generation in the Workplace, Primed to Make a Difference You Can’t (and Don’t Want To) Ignore. This series offers career advice for the Biggest Generation since The Baby Boom, by The Millennial Mentor.
By Robyn Tingley
If you are new to the workplace, you may not have a lot of experience with meetings. While many employees dread meetings and consider them a waste of time, they continue to be used as the primary means to vet topics and make decisions. The quality of the meeting depends largely on the meeting organizer, but as a participant, you have a key role to ensure success.
#1 Prepare – there are three steps you need to take to prepare for any meeting. First, if material was circulated in advance, read it. Not only is this a sign of respect to your colleagues who invested hours to prepare it, but it will give you a strong advantage because sadly, many people are too rushed or unorganized to digest the information up front. Second, review the agenda and understand the goal of the meeting. Is it to create awareness, come to consensus, make a decision or recommendation? Third, know who is attending. Meetings are a great way to get to know more colleagues and expand your network.
#2 Speak Up – as a meeting participant, you need to be prepared to make a positive contribution. This can be challenging if others monopolize the discussion or if you are an introvert and can’t find the right opening to voice your thoughts. If you have read the material in advance, commit to share your thoughts on data you read, or ask a question about cost, customers, risk, partners, competition, geography — but be succinct, or you will likely get interrupted by more dominant or experienced personalities.
#3 Seek Clarity – if you need a clarification on something, chances are other meeting participants do too. Ask the meeting organizer or presenter for more detail if it’s warranted. Another great way to speak up and help all meeting attendees is to ask for a recap of the action items as the meeting draws to a close. No meeting should ever adjourn without outcomes and next steps being agreed upon by all.
#4 Follow Up – find an appropriate time to thank the meeting organizer. Often sending an email or visiting the organizer personally after the meeting has adjourned will have a greater positive impact than a quick ‘thank you’ as you exit the room. Express how much you appreciated being included in the meeting and why you found it valuable. Also be sure to follow up promptly on any actions that were assigned to you.
While this seems like simple meeting etiquette, it’s surprising how many people in today’s workplace don’t prepare, aren’t contributing, or give proper courtesy to the meeting organizers. You can shine by following these simple steps and setting an example for others.
Robyn Tingley’s career has taken her around the world as an international executive in Human Resources and Communications. She is the founder of GlassSKY.org, an organization dedicated to workplace diversity, gender equality, and helping people succeed.
Other articles in the Series —
Millennial Envy — an introduction to this unique generation