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Comply at Work business bytes

Happy 2013 Productive Meetings

Our top tips for making sure your meetings are productive

Better Briefs!

Tips for improving communications

H&S Poster

Every employee you have needs to see this by law!

January 2013


How to manage productive meetings When two people meet, they only need to have one agreement: Mr. A must agree with Mrs. B.

People often think it helps when they invite more people to a meeting. But, if you’re not careful, it just ends up “deciding by committee”, in that:

When four people meet, they now need six agreements – AB, AC, AD, BC, BD and CD.

• Even when things do get decided, it takes ages

When eight people meet, they need 28 agreements (don’t worry – I won’t list them all!) When you look at it like this, is it any wonder that big meetings don’t achieve all you hoped?

• Nothing gets decided • The noisiest person gets their way (and “noisiest” can – but doesn’t always mean – “most insightful”) So, reduce attendees by doing some/all of: • Make decisions 1-2-1 as often as possible • Only invite people who can influence the decision; and/or will make the decision better; and/or care • Similarly, only go to meetings where you can/want to influence the decision (obviously contact the owner beforehand if you’re not going) • If you can only contribute to agenda items 3 and 6, call the owner in advance, and ask them to change the agenda so they discuss your topics first, so you can contribute then leave • Once a decision has been made, choose the person(s) who will run with it, and ask them to take the detail off line. This is much better than eight people having 28 (dis)agreements about it • If appropriate, send relevant non-attendees an “Actions arising” e-mail, so they are up to speed (note: “Actions arising”, not “Topics discussed”) As with any communications advice, remember the rule of “first, do no harm”. All the personalities and politics involved in meetings mean that you have to treat this advice sensibly. But always remember; ideally, you should only attend a meeting because it helps you and others; not because you always have done.

P2 | Business Bytes


Action point Review your diary for upcoming meetings that you are chairing and/or attending. What can you do to reduce the number of attendees at each of them, including – when appropriate – yourself?

Business Bytes | P3


Action point

Identify the next communication you’re asking someone to prepare for you. Make sure you are being clear enough on the four points above (it’s quicker to do that than do needless re-drafts later).

P4 | Business Bytes


Better Briefs! with diplomacy Have you ever asked someone to prepare a communication for you, and been underwhelmed by what they produced? And then of course, this is quickly followed by last minute, stressful re-drafting. This isn’t much fun for either of you. And you can both feel frustrated by the other: you think they should have done better; they think you should have briefed them better. It’s not always easy to find ten minutes to deliver a better brief. But it’s never easy to find the many hours you need to rectify a poor Draft One.

So, here are four quick steps to giving a better brief. Be clear on: Step 1: W  hat you want the communication to achieve (“I want it to ensure my team does Action A”) Step 2: The main sections/titles (“To convince them to do A, I’ll need to cover topics B, C and D”) Step 3: The key 1-3 points that go in each section (“The main topics to cover in each section will be…”) Step 4: A guiding one-word phrase/rule (“while you’re creating this, at all times think FUN. The team has got to enjoy it”) You might brief someone by telling them all four. Or you might tell them items 1 and 4 (the purpose and style), and discuss what they think the sections/ content should be. The latter is usually better, because they bring new insights, and also feel greater ownership. But, both work well. And both are certainly better than “Please prepare a report on X that I can present to the board”… … which is usually followed by “I didn’t mean it to look quite like that”.

Business Bytes | P5


What you need to know...

P6 | Business Bytes


New Legislation If you employ anyone, by law you must display a health and safety law poster, or provide each worker with the equivalent pocket card.

Back in 1999 a universal communication tool was launched in the form of a poster, legally required to be displayed in all workplaces. This Health and Safety Law poster was aimed directly at employees. The purpose being to both inform workers of their rights under the Health and Safety at work act and to make sure they’re aware of their obligations under this law. In 2009 a new version of this poster was published. Employers and those responsible for health and safety signs in workplaces have until 2014 to update the poster on display in their facilities. Despite this allowable changeover period, some disreputable companies have tried to use ‘elf and safety’ scare tactics to encourage sales of the new version. This revised poster has been designed to be more visually appealing than the old version - in the hope that more people will actually read it.

The poster is split into 4 main sections: 1. The first is about what employers must do for you as an employee. This section contains information about what employers are expected or required to do to make sure any risks to health and safety at work are properly controlled. It also informs workers about the type of measures that might be taken by an employer to reduce the risks - like using safety signs. 2. The second covers what you must do. In this section the responsibilities of an employee are explained. This includes doing things like following any training which has been given, taking reasonable care and helping to identify risks that are not adequately controlled.

If you’re a UK business and you don’t currently display an HSE Health and Safety Law poster - you almost certainly should. If you’ve got the old (1999 brown) version - don’t let anyone tell you it needs to be changed until 2014. If you’re unsure about whether you need to display a poster - contact the HSE directly.

If you do need to buy one - they’re available from a choice of suppliers or from the HSE direct.

3. In the third section the poster explains what to do if there’s a problem. This part gives information of who should be informed and how to escalate, including directly to the HSE, this if the problem is not resolved. 4. The last section provides specific contact information - for Health and Safety Representatives in the workplace and externally.

Business Bytes | P7


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ComplyAtWork January 2013