Executive Support Staff Train to Plan More Effective Meetings

staff meeting
Staff met in small groups to practice and role play strategies.

Executive Assistants and other support staff who help manage the day-to-day operations of their departments attended professional development training sessions in the executive Board Room on April 4. The training introduced staff, who also work closely with Executive team members, to some of the same strategies for planning effective meetings that were introduced to senior managers at the last Quarterly Leadership Meeting in December. The meeting preparation framework is based on Purpose, Outcomes, Stakeholders, Decision-Making, and Agenda (POSDA).

“The ‘A’ in “agenda” comes at the end of POSDA,” explained Fiona Kanagasingam, “because the purpose why we are meeting decides who to invite. Lead with the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting to help you decide who to invite and what will be on the agenda.” Ms. Kanagasingam later described the agenda as “the roadmap showing how to get to the meeting’s desired outcome.”

In addition to the structured training, there were many tips offered to help the support staff deal with common problems. For example, to encourage responses to invitations and attendance at meetings, “tell each person beforehand what their role will be,” Ms. Kanagasingam suggested.

Class participants also shared some of their common problems. These included: unavailability of meeting rooms, not being authorized to reserve rooms, not being informed of the meeting’s purpose, and not knowing beforehand what materials will be needed.

“Now emails that I send out for meetings will help people more because I know in advance what questions to ask my manager,” said Desiree Brown, an administrative manager in the Bronx Property Management Department.

Bessie Pratt, a secretary in the Emergency Services Department, mentioned the importance of “including the purpose and objective of Staff met in small groups to practice and role play strategies. meetings in email invitations,” and was looking forward to using more of the helpful techniques she had learned.

So the next time you attend a meeting at a convenient location, that has a clear purpose, with the right stakeholders in attendance, and an agenda that leads to the desired outcome, you can appreciate all the planning and preparation made by executive support staff—especially since this year Administrative Professionals Day is celebrated on April 27.

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