8 Aug 2022

Office roles and how they contribute

Imagine this: you can still play a football team with only half of your players, but you probably won’t win. If you keep your quarterback, who will guard him? If you forgo your linebackers who will pass to the cornerback?

The same goes for meetings. You can host a meeting by yourself, but will it have the effect you need? Will you score a touchdown, hitting home with your key points?

Probably not. Choosing a great team for your meeting can set up a meeting to really pack a punch. 

Choosing your team

Picking a great team comes down to more than just “who’s available.” Every professional athlete was chosen because he or she excelled in a particular skill set. Christian Ronaldo, for example, is known for his ability to score from almost anywhere on the field. So, he plays striker on the Real Madrid soccer team.

The same goes for your meeting team members: play to everyone’s strengths — no coach would ever hesitate to place Tom Brady as quarterback on the field.

To decide on the best players for the roles, consider

  1. What you hope to achieve in the meeting
  2. Who can help you achieve your goals
  3. Which groups of people you want to impact

When it comes to picking your team, go with your instincts. If you know your team well, you should have no trouble filling the following roles.

The leader

Characteristics: engaging and attentive while comfortable juggling a team.

The leader is the host of the session. Now, keep in mind, the host may be the brains but doesn’t have to be the brawn behind every little detail. Instead, think of the host as the quarterback who calls the play, and oversees the execution, while still participating along with his teammates.

Meeting leaders orchestrate the meeting by laying out the game plan for others to follow. They’re in charge of deciding

  • Who the meeting is for
  • How to work around the key attendees’ schedules
  • The equipment that’ll be needed
  • Which conference room would be best
  • The technology the meeting will need

Especially with the rise of hybrid workplaces and flexible workspaces, teams need to consider different time zones, schedules, and commitments to accommodate meeting attendees. Also, the best leaders account for natural meeting inhibitors such as the time of day, weekday, national holidays, etc. For example, employees may be more distracted around lunchtime, plus, end-of-day meetings are rarely productive.

The organizer

Characteristics: organized to a fault with great attention to detail.

To avoid missing any crucial steps — like inviting the attendees — delegate the nitty-gritty details of the meeting to one person. The meeting organizer’s role is to ensure the event is scheduled properly with the invites sent to the attendees.

The invite needs to include the meeting’s

  • Date
  • Name
  • Agenda
  • Location (link to join virtual meetings, room number, or both)
  • Invite list

The meeting organizer also may be asked to monitor how many people accept the meeting and from which teams, helping the organizer gauge their audience. By delegating the meeting invitation to one person, there’s less of a chance that any essential steps will be missed.

The notes taker

Characteristics: reliable and systematic with an unbeatable attention span.

The notes taker is the Lionel Messi of the corporate world. It’s taken defender Messi a longer time to get noticed than goal-scoring Ronaldo. Now, Messi is known as one of the most essential players on the field.

The notes taker has the power to carry teams past one-hit plays. According to Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, “99 percent of people in leadership roles don't take notes.” So, how do these executives keep track of action items and key meeting points?

By way of a notes taker, that’s how. Thanks to the skill and unwavering attention span of the notes taker, employees, executives, and clients alike can look back on the meeting long after it’s over.

The timekeeper

Characteristics: a creature of habit who has no issue with professionally cutting in.

Of all the roles, “The Timekeeper” undoubtedly sounds the most epic, like “The Gatekeeper” from the Wizard of Oz. Far from being a guy in a green suit, the timekeeper keeps track of the minutes passing during the meeting so the presenters or other roles don’t have to.

The timekeeper helps make sure the meeting objectives are covered within the span of the meeting. If the meeting lingers too long on one subject or goes too far off-topic, it’s the timekeeper’s role to nudge the meeting back on track. This role monitors the agenda and helps make sure all essential points are covered, preferably with time for Q&A at the end.

The participant

Characteristics: anyone with a proactive and supportive spirit.

The meeting participants are like a corporate scrimmage team where no one truly knows what to do but everyone tries their darndest. It’s up to the other roles to act as captain and coach, steering the participants to a common goal and understanding. Participants attend meetings for specific agenda items. For example, in a product release meeting, the marketing team might only pay attention to the execution of the release, rather than quality control or any lingering product bugs.

The participants are essential members of any team, as they contribute diversity and outside perspectives. Where a developer may charge full speed ahead with a new idea, a sales rep might dare to ask, “but, what would the customer think?” To be the best team players, participants should do their due diligence and come prepared for the meeting. They need to read and understand the meeting agenda so they can arrive with questions, concerns, or suggestions on hand. It’s the participant’s job to contribute to the discussion, supporting quality ideas and brainstorming.

Who should attend meetings?

Back when Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple, he shared a story regarding meeting attendees:

During one meeting, he spotted a woman who he didn’t recognize. He asked the woman who she was. When she explained that she was involved in some marketing projects that loosely related to the meeting, Jobs simply told her “I don’t think we need you in this meeting, Lorrie. Thanks.”

Now, according to Elon Musk’s views on meetings, “it’s not rude to leave, it’s rude to make someone stay and waste their time.” Both Musk and Jobs emphasize that meetings should only be attended by those who will find value in the meeting’s content.

What other CEOs think

According to Harvard Business Review, 71% of workers feel that meetings are unproductive and efficient, often keeping them from their real work. One key factor to such meeting shortcomings is the lack of structure and planning that goes into the meetings. Still, most successful executives are in favor of meetings, so long as they’re executed right.

Alfred Sloan, the highly-effective CEO of GM from the 1920s to 1950s, followed a simple meeting structure. He would show up at a meeting, announce the meeting’s purpose, listen to feedback, and then send out a follow-up memo with action plans. In this model…

  1. Organizer: set up the meeting
  2. Timekeeper: kept the meeting on track
  3. Notes taker: provided content for the after-memo

Fast forward to the present day, Elon Musk has some strong opinions on meetings. He presses organizations to

  • Forgo large meetings unless they provide definitive value to the whole audience
  • Refrain from scheduling frequent meetings unless they’re urgent
  • Leave any meeting that isn’t adding value to your job

According to Musk, hosts need to be aware of which teams would find value in their meetings and which don’t. They also need to provide clear agendas so that participants know when to join and when to leave the meetings.

The bottom line is that meetings need to add value. One person can’t plan and manage a quality meeting alone — it takes a team, and then some.

Joan - the most valued player (MVP) of meetings

As great as your dream team sounds, some things are out of the hands of the host, organizer, note taker, timekeeper, and participants. Every on-site meeting is susceptible to squatters or overrun meetings.

The Joan meeting room management system all but eliminates potential threats to your room’s availability, helping meetings start on track and improving the overall employee experience. The wireless room display shows a room’s availability, making sure employees know when they need to clear out to make way for the next meeting.

Going a step further, Joan offers room analytics to not only support your office space, but improve workplace management. By knowing which rooms are most popular, which are used to capacity, and who books the most meetings, office managers can restructure the office. Through restructuring, companies can offer employees more of what they want, rather than what they don’t need.

To learn more about how Joan can improve the workplace experience in your office, get in touch with our friendly sales team.