Monday, February 24th, 2014


I wonder if you know the amount of time people spend preparing for a 
conversation with you.  Especially if it’s a private conversation on a pivotal topic.
They will talk to others to try to get your orientation to the meeting. They’ll prepare for what they think it will be.  Will it be casual, will it be decisive, is it a sounding out about others.  What is the right preparation?  

You mood and your method with be examined and talked about with others.
“Well, s/he usually likes to———.  S/he doesn’t like it when————.
Be sure not to——————.  Don’t worry about————————.
Even you direct reports will consult with one another so this is not about levels of power only.  But it is about power.  

Good power is all about getting something done.  The trick is to direct people to getting the good right things done and NOT about pleasing power out of fear or hope of goodies to come.  Meetings with just you and a person with something at stake trigger pleasing you—and the fear of not .

I like a bit of tension in a meeting that involves bringing your best thought and expecting solid push back and discussion.  But the over rehearsing that can go on and the foolish waste of time to make things look good (better than they are) is a form or organizational waste.  You need the exact opposite–easy candor without fear or over-pleasing.  This is a constant bug-a-boo for you in your top role.  Don’t think the dynamic doesn’t exist because you are sincere in not wanting it. 

You can minimize the waste of this over prep time by being clear with people about what the meeting will be like and what you will want and need.  For example:

l.  Informal and conversational—just want to talk and think with you and open a topic.  No immediate outcome.  

2.  Informal in tone but serious about outcome–just want to talk and air a tough situation a decision will be needed at the end of the meeting. The topic is X. Come with thoughts only.

3.  Tough dilemma to discuss.  This is the topic.  Come prepared with written analysis and solutions.  Keep it to three pages.  No decision til further involvement of others.

4.  Important talk with you about development.  No preparation needed. 
It is about a future possibility.  

How you set up meetings can either help productivity or hurt it.
The longer the time is between the request for a meeting and the actual meeting, the more time will be spent OVER preparing.  Work with your admin to set the topic, tone and parameters for your individual meetings. It will save a lot of wear and tear and fear in your company.


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