jobs productive meetings Gathering the group to sit at the table doesn't have to be a huge waste of time. / Colourbox

The conference room can be the place where big things happen — unless it’s where productivity goes to die. The key to having meetings that get things done is planning and cooperation, according to Berny Dohrmann, founder of CEO Space, a company whose workshops and conferences are geared toward making workplaces more efficient.

“There are oceans of waste in endless meetings that don’t have ‘deliverables,’” Dohrmann says, referring to the specific goals he says should be addressed whenever employees come together. In his opinion, almost everyone is doing it wrong.

Before you convene at the table, he suggests naming a “psychic leader” for the meeting, plus one to three specific goals. But the most important thing he suggests is that everyone check the bad attitude at the door.

 

“Criticism is a destructive element,” he says, suggesting that employees should be encouraged to “plus” one another. This means having a meeting framework where those present are encouraged to build upon and boost each others’ ideas instead of being negative. “This builds consensus to make common objectives possible,” he says.

These collaborative workplaces aren’t just kicking butt in the conference rooms either. Dohrmann cites the winner’s circle of profitable companies, like Google, Apple and Zappos, as workplaces with cooperative cultures. Meanwhile, he says, “uncool companies that are competitive — like Exxon and Microsoft — are completely losing their way, having endless meetings that go nowhere.”

The next time you’re trapped in a meeting with listless leadership and meandering direction, keep Dohrmann’s tips in mind:

• Before going into the meeting, make sure there are “deliverables,” or specific things that employees are attending the meeting to gain or learn.

• During the meeting, have one person act in a leadership position. His or her focus and guidance can keep things moving in the right direction.

• Throughout the workplace, make sure that being positive and cooperative is highly valued, instead of breeding a competitive workplace where employees are pitted against one another.

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