Part of the 1, 2, 3 Series on Courtesy and Good Manners in an Accounting Firm, from Added Value Corporation Pty Ltd
I thought I knew what I would cover first, what I considered the biggest demonstration of a lack of courtesy and display of bad manners. Being a careful accountant, I asked around and found out that was not it all.
Not Preparing for a Meeting
I was informed the most common display of bad manners was, Not Preparing for a Meeting.
Mostly, this consists of people
- not checking the Agenda before the meeting
- not reading any preliminary materials and
- not considering the impact of the matters to be discussed.
Unfortunately, often the people who do not prepare beforehand are also those who
- regularly turn up late, thus displaying more Bad Manners.
When it is the Chair of the Meeting who does not prepare and turns up late, it is even worse.
It is interesting to speak with accountants about the positon of the people who are most at fault. Yes, they are sometimes the most powerful person at the meeting, but not always.
A well-mannered and powerful Chair can set the tone for meetings. They will
- Start on time, regardless of people being late
- When covering items on the Agenda, they will assume all participants have read it
- Regarding Preliminary Materials, they will say something like, “We will assume everyone has read this and there is only a need to cover major issues or matters to highlight”
- Also, they will ensure meeting papers are issued some days before the meeting so as to allow adequate time for people to prepare.
Use of Tablets and Mobile Phones During a Meeting
I was told this is an associated display of Bad Manners. I am not sure as I Chair some lengthy group meetings where people like to keep an eye on their incoming emails. I expect it could be argued it is Bad Manners, especially if there is a guest speaker. Or, if it is a small meeting, maybe only three or four participants.
I guess it may depend on who is at the meeting. Has everyone been asked and accepted it is OK for people to multitask, that is, check emails whilst listening to the discussions? One person suggested for lengthy meetings, at the end of each hour there be a 5 minute break where people can check messages and emails. My concern is that could easily become 10 minutes. More on this and other matters in later articles.
(c) Thea Foster – Added Value Corporation.
Thea has been providing professional practice management and marketing facilitating, presentations, and consulting for over 20 years. Thea’s clients are mainly accounting firms or suppliers of products and services to accounting firms. Please visit www.addedvalue.com.au for further information.
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