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BUILDING HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATIONS 219
Ask Bob and Peter: Do you know of any good training programs to help employees improve their public speaking skills?
Although there are a variety of programs available to help employees with their public speaking skills, you might consider the following: (1) Communispond is a business that specializes in preparing employees for speaking publicly and before one another. Bob once took a three-day class with Communispond and was impressed with its quality and effectiveness. Find them on the Web at www.commu-nispond.com. (2) Joining Toastmasters International is a terrific and inexpensive way to learn how to become a better and more effective public speaker. The environment is low pressure and supportive, and chapters meet often—usually once a week. Check them out at www.toastmasters.org. (3) Many community colleges offer classes in public speaking. Contact one near you to find out what's available.
Business Meetings (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994), we discuss a few of the reasons:
• Too many meetings take place. It seems like someone in every organization is having a meeting almost every day for some reason or another, whether the topic of the meeting is important enough to merit it. The result? A lot of time spent in meetings and not so much time getting actual work done. It’s no surprise that many people find themselves thinking (often out loud), “How am I supposed to get any work done with all these meetings?”
• The meeting starts late. The tendency is to wait for those people who are late, especially if that includes your boss or someone of higher rank in the organization. Unfortunately, this wastes the time of all those who are waiting, essentially punishing them for being on time and rewarding those who were late, making it even easier for them (and others) to be late the next time as well.
The Management Bible
Ask Bob and Peter: How different is it managing a business on the Internet compared to a regular business? Whereas the office provides a physical meeting place, an Internet business is widespread with no physical meeting place.
You've noticed one of the most interesting nuances of managing people (i.e., in an office) versus managing them remotely (i.e., via the Internet). In a regular office environment, managers interact with their employees all the time. They sit in meetings with them, visit with them, talk with them in the hallway, listen to their stories of success—and failure—and, as a result, they often develop very strong working relationships with them. Unfortunately, when you manage remotely (through the Internet) you may go months without having time to form strong interpersonal bonds with your employees. And while you can certainly work with and manage employees via e-mail, phone calls, faxes, and the like, it's not the same as being in the same room with them. The solution to this is to be sure that time and money are set aside for the employees of the organization to meet with their managers and coworkers on a periodic basis, typically a minimum of once every two weeks. These meetings should focus on giving managers and employees the opportunity to meet one another and participate in team-building exercises that require them to work together to achieve certain goals. You might, for example, have a monthly marketing strategy meeting or a quarterly business planning meeting. The choice depends on what kind of meeting meets your needs and the needs of your organization. By creating opportunities for managers and employees to work together to achieve common goals, developing strong interpersonal bonds and relationships, whether the business is run over the Internet or not, you will help employees achieve their goals and, thus, the goals of the organization.
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• The meeting has no focus. Does every meeting you attend have an agenda and a clear plan for getting from the beginning to the end? If you answered “yes,” then we would be very surprised indeed. Most often, meetings are a proliferation of personal agendas, digressions, diversions, off-topic tangents, and worse. These results all serve to throw meetings out of focus, off track, and into the annals of countless other worthless wastes of time.
• Attendees are unprepared. Often individuals come unprepared and may not even know why they’ve been invited to attend. This means that precious time is wasted either bringing all the attendees up to speed on the issues, or attendees simply mentally check out of the meeting, imagining all the things they could be doing with the time they are wasting in the meeting!
• Certain individuals dominate the proceedings. It seems that there’s always someone in a meeting (in large meetings, more than one person) who decides to be the star of the show and to make his or her points as loudly and as often as possible. Aside from their obnoxious behavior, the problem is that these individuals often intimidate the other participants and stifle their contributions—not the outcome you need to accomplish the goals of the meeting.