Write clear, concise and condensed meeting minutes and still keep your sanity!

Have you ever tired to change the way something is done at work and met with resistance? People don’t generally like change – change can be scary, it means a different way of doing things and I might not like it.

Some of things I try to do on the minute taking courses I run is expose participants to different types of minute templates and the preferred style of recording minutes (ie a summarisation of discussion without naming people).

In some instances this can be a complete change to the way minutes have been formatted or displayed for some meeting participants.

I can say that just about all of my course participants embrace that there could be a better way of doing something, they could see how it would work and are willing to give it a try. However, they have reservations as to reactions to the change back at work. And this is mainly because they know they’ll meet with resistance.

There are a number of ways you can implement change without rocking the boat or ruffling too many feathers and I’ll outline two of those suggestions here:

Trial it

I’ve already outlined the reasons why people can be negative about change. A common response when you ask why something is done a particular way is, “this is the way it’s always been done.” This is a poor excuse and we should always be questioning why something is being done so we can be more efficient and effective.

Ensure you outline the reasons and benefits for the change – what will make it better and why. You should have people’s buy in at this point. If not, or your still meeting with some reluctance, a good way to move things forward is to suggest that the change be trialled. That way people don’t have to commit up front.

An example of this was a woman who attended my course really wanted to change the format and style of the minutes. She worked for an old organisation where the minutes style had not changed for 20 years. We talked through some options. In the end we decided that to get the buy in she needed, she would produce two sets of meeting minutes – one in the old style, and one in the new style. She presented this to the committee members and immediately they could see the advantages of the new style, but they were still reluctant to commit. She suggested that they trial using the new style for three months at which time the group would make a decision as to which format they would use. The group agreed to this. When the three months was up, guess which style and format they adopted? Yes, the new one.

Small changes

When you want to make a lot of changes, be careful about making them all at once. You’ll freak people out! List out the changes you want to make, prioritise them and then start with the first one. Once everyone is comfortable with this change then move onto the next one. Rinse and repeat!

By doing it this way you’ll be more likely to implement successful changes and keep people with you as you go. Even if it takes six months or more. And by the end of the six months you’ll have all the changes embedded.

Part of driving efficiencies in any organisation is about asking why, coming up with a more efficient and effective way of doing things and then implementing them by a process of trial and slowly but surely.

Have you implemented any changes in taking minutes and, if so, what did you do to ensure those changes were implemented successfully?


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