Improving the way meetings are run

April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

I raised the issue of collegiality at department meetings by asking faculty members to list what they thought were reasonable guidelines for meeting practices.  We then voted on this list of guidelines.

Some good topics for such guidelines include:
1) ending on time
2) conducting department business during business hours
3) critiquing the idea and not the person raising the idea
4) treating each other with professional respect and courtesy
5) not interrupting
6) the meeting chair has the responsibility to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute
7) no one should dominate the conversation, be concise
8. every faculty member has the right to raise a point of order if they think the guidelines are not being followed

Benefits include:
(1) and (2) are important for issues of work-life balance, especially for faculty members with children.
(3) and (4) are no brainers, but are important to state.
(5) – (7) are important issues regarding gender, inclusiveness and effective communication
(8) Is important because if things get ugly these guidelines empower every member of the department to step in, not just the person being treated badly.  It provides a mechanism for bystanders to speak up.

In general, it is important that these are guidelines have been endorsed by the entire department.  Simply having this discussion in the first place was a signal that professional courtesy is an expectation of the entire community.

I framed this discussion in terms of conducting meetings in a way that empowers everyone to be included and to speak up so that the department is able to benefit from the ideas and perspectives of the entire community.  I.E. these guidelines are not only good for those who tend to be marginalized during meetings, they are good for the entire community.

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