Operating Agreements Lead to Successful Meetings

Does your company use Operating Agreements to establish guidelines for conducting meetings?  And if so, are those Norms followed?

At a recent peer-group meeting involving business owners and professional advisors, we kicked off by going through the agreements one by one and gaining consensus among all participants, prior to starting to work through the agenda.  The Operating Agreements were posted on a wall in the conference room, and remained clearly visible for the duration of the day.

Operating agreements insure that everyone in the room is “on the same page” and also help create a framework for productivity.  We’ve been conducting meetings with this group for more than a year now, and the agreements have enabled the group to have more meaningful discussions because it encourages candor, trust and mutual respect.

Here are the conditions we follow in our peer-group meetings:

  • Confidentiality
  • Electronics off during meeting
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Take responsibility for your own learning
  • Give the facilitator permission to facilitate
  • Listen first to understand
  • Speak out of your own experience
  • Offer feedback without judgement

Meeting agreements aren’t just for peer-groups, of course—the same principle applies to any type of meeting, and with a bit of thought, you can craft an operating agreement that works for your organization.

  Keep in mind that simply having agreements doesn’t mean someone won’t “slip up” and violate one of the conditions.  When it happens, simply remind the person, stress that they agreed to the conditions, and move on.

Could your meetings run better?  Are people clear about how to behave while they are in the meeting?  Please let me know if I can help.