I just finished listening to part two of the effective teleconference podcasts. Wow! This was a pretty massive ‘cast, in terms of content (and steps)!
Teleconferences are a huge part of professional life, as a project manager in an organization responsible for providing technical leadership and support to local IT teams across North America. I have some comments, concerns, and questions.
[b]The Good:[/b] There’s lots of good stuff in the ‘cast that [u]should be[/u] common sense, but often isn’t. Probably the most important message to me is to create an environment that minimizes distractions. Email, IM, Blackberry, people walking into offices, etc. are all distractions. The suggestions provided are great, specific steps towards that.
[b]The Bad:[/b] “No Speakerphones”, “No Groups”, “No Roll Call”
It seems that the “No Speakerphones” rule is there to keep attendees focused on the meeting and not doing other things. If so, then it’s not speakerphones causing the problem, it’s the “doing other things.” In our organization, people with offices use speakerphones on conference calls and those without offices use headsets. [u]Both[/u] make it easier for folks to do other things. It takes individual discipline and accountability to focus on the meeting…not the prohibition of these technologies.
“No Groups” rule: Sometimes I run meetings with mostly local people and a few remote people. Because I want to get people to focus on the meeting instead of whatever is at their desk [u]and[/u] because of the value of face-to-face communication, I set up those meetings so that local attendees group together. I certainly understand and agree with the point about how using “Mute” for sidebar conversations detracts, but that can be managed. The risk/cost of sidebars does not seem to outweigh the value of improving focus and communication having as many people as possible together.
“No Roll Call”: I posted on [url=http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1748]another thread[/url] about this. To summarize, I don’t think it was clear in the podcast if this meant that capturing this information as people join the call before (or after) the meeting is appropriate. It doesn’t take much effort and could save confusion or time later.
[b]The Ugly:[/b] It’s really scary how many of these practices we do not follow. I expect it’s true in many places, but I come to despise teleconferences because I’m constantly repeating myself when someone says like, “What was that? I didn’t hear you.”
These tips are sound actionable items for improving individual behavior; however, this is significantly different than changing a culture. While I understand that culture change occurs through changes to individual behavior, it seems like trying to stop a tornado with a window fan. How are others doing this, especially with cross-functional group meetings?