Prepare managers to hold more effective meetings
Workplace meetings are often seen as a time-wasters because they are chaired by managers who don't know how to conduct them effectively, says business executive and author Karen Adamedes.
Managing gender differences in meetingsIn her new book, Hot tips for career chicks, Adamedes says that women often struggle to express themselves in meetings.
A common cause of friction - particularly between men and women - at meetings arises not from what is being said, but how it is expressed, she says.
Women have a natural tendency to get over-excited about a topic or idea and talk over the top of others without thinking. "For women it's kind of OK to do that because other women are used to communicating like that," Adamedes says. "But you can actually see on men's faces that they get really, really annoyed when it happens."
Women who put forward ideas in this way may not necessarily realise their approach has irritated others and instead interpret male annoyance as unfounded rejection of their ideas.
Adamedes says that while women do need to learn to be disciplined and wait for the chance to "break in", men need to resist a natural inclination to be insulted and annoyed by well-meaning offenders.
One way of addressing the issue is to ensure the chair intervenes quickly, asking the person who interrupted to wait until the speaker has finished their point before giving them the floor. "If you have that happen to you three or four times, there's a fair chance you'll get the fact that maybe you should wait," says Adamedes.
Another way the chair can accommodate both genders is by facilitating introductions at the beginning of the meeting.
"Even from the beginning men are quite good at walking into a meeting, introducing themselves to anyone they don't know... making it clear why they're there; whereas women will hang back."
A good chair will ensure everybody present is aware of who each person is, why they are there, and where they sit in the hierarchy of the organisation so that no one starts the meeting "from behind the eight ball", she says.
If you have some HR news to share or would like to suggest a topic for an article, click here to email the editor.