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3 Reasons Not to Run Your Own Virtual Meetings

When you run a virtual or remote team, your meetings are critical. Webmeetings, teleconferences and video conferencing are the lines by which your team stays connected. So if they're so important to your team, let someone else run them. Seriously. At least once in a while.

In years of writing and speaking on management and communication, nothing gets more complaints from managers than running meetings (except possibly sitting in badly run meetings). This is a skill that many of us have learned the hard way. Rather than receiving proper guidance and training, we've been thrust out there and told to just make it work. As a result we spend much of our time planning, running and recovering from meetings that often don't accomplish either their stated goals (making a good decision, communicating project status and moving it forward) or unstated goals (keeping your team connected and creating good working relationships).

Here are 3 reasons to let someone else run the meeting once in a while:

  1. You get a chance to observe your team's dynamics. Let's face it, running a webmeeting can be a bit like trying to give a presentation while programming your DVR. There's a lot going on, and we can be so focused on the "presentation" part that we're not really picking up on the subtle things going on around us. Are there people or groups who aren't speaking up? Is one person constantly dominating the discussion? Are people tersely agreeing but you can tell there's something left unsaid? It's amazing what you'll learn by watching -- and really listening -- from the sidelines.
  2. Your team gets a chance to see each other in action. Trust is built when you have faith in your teammates' abilities and motivation. On remote teams, it can be hard to get to know the other people unless they're active in meetings. Many times talented people are quietly lurking on calls and don't get a chance to shine. Here's a way to safely spotlight them. If they're not up for running the entire meeting, at least let them facilitate the updates and questions that relate to their work.
  3. These are "teachable moments." Remember how you didn't get the training and help you needed to learn to run meetings effectively? Well, you can break the cycle. By letting your team members take the reins once in a while (especially when the stakes are not too high or the environment too contentious) you can assess their capability, help them learn tools like your webmeeting platform, and gauge their communication skills. It will give you a great coaching opportunity. You might actually get something to base a performance review on.
I'll let you in on another cool reason to let someone else run the meetings: When you slough off a job you don't enjoy to someone else, it's called laziness. When you're the manager, it's called delegation. Try it.

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    photo by flickr user walknboston CC 2.0