69. How To Lead Effective School Meetings with Jill Goodman
In this episode of Mindful School Marketing, we are joined by Jill Goodman, a consultant with over 20 years of experience working with independent and private schools. The episode focuses on the topic of running successful meetings in educational institutions. Jill emphasizes the importance of having a clear purpose for meetings and structuring them efficiently with well-defined agendas. She discusses the significance of follow-up, action items, and the need to hold participants accountable for their commitments. Jill also highlights the role of mindfulness in leadership, emphasizing the importance of understanding and inspiring your team to achieve a shared vision.
About Jill Goodman:
Jill is a consultant for independent and private schools with over 20 years of experience working with organizational leaders. She specializes in helping schools advance their mission through advancement related research, strategic visioning, leadership mentoring, and development capacity building.
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[00:00:00] Tara: Welcome to Mindful School Marketing. I’m Tara.
[00:00:06] Aubrey: And I’m Aubrey. Today we’re joined by Jill Goodman. Jill is a consultant for independent and private schools with over 20 years of experience working with organizational leaders. She specializes in helping schools advance their mission through advancement related research, strategic visioning, leadership mentoring, and development capacity building.
[00:00:25] Jill is well known for her presentations on educational advancement, leadership, and donor relations that have been well received by audiences across the country. She’s a frequent podcast guest, blogger, and author. Welcome,
[00:00:38] Jill: Jill. Thank you, Aubrey. I’m so excited to be here.
[00:00:43] Tara: Well, we’re excited to have you back with us today.
[00:00:46] been on the podcast before, but today we’re happy to have you here to talk about a topic that we are really interested in and our listeners are too, which is running successful meetings. Jill, we know you, um, through, through our work group that we have, a group that’s been meeting for a while. So we know you’re really good at being organized and, and Participating in meetings.
[00:01:09] So we think you’re the perfect person to chat with us with us about this. But can you first just remind our guests who you are a little bit more than than the intro bio that Aubrey read, and maybe your, your experience specifically when it comes to helping independent schools with things like management and retention.
[00:01:28] Jill: Sure, sure. I’ve, I’ve been involved in independent schools for probably 25 years since my very first experience as a parent volunteer at my child’s school. Um, and I’ve been working with independent schools for the last six years as a consultant. And in that capacity, which is one of my favorite roles. In my lifetime is, uh, I work in mostly three areas.
[00:01:54] So we’ve enrollment management, specifically retention and all that affects retention, uh, development, which is department capacity, building and evaluation, campaign readiness, campaign execution, and then leadership mentoring and skill development within leaders. And that is, I think, where, uh, you called me in to talk about meeting management, which is part of leadership.
[00:02:18] And being a good leader is being able to manage a meeting and create meetings in ways that make sense and that are inclusive and productive. Yeah. Wow. I
[00:02:30] Aubrey: mean, Jill, you kind of do it all. Um, we are so excited to really have you here to dive into this particular topic that I think is on the forefront of a lot of our, um, a lot of school leaders minds and that is meetings.
[00:02:45] So, um, there are lots of kinds of meetings and school leaders seem to get caught into, caught, called into meetings like all day long or all week long, all year long. There are different kinds of meetings, you know, some are more to gather information, some are the one on ones and some are with multiple people.
[00:03:03] Some are one off meetings and some are reoccurring for this discussion. Let’s focus on ongoing meetings. Those reoccurring meetings, committee meetings, board meetings, admin team meetings, department meetings, that kind of thing. So given multiple roles that school leaders often face and they’re juggling multiple roles, how do they determine when a meeting is necessary when it’s not and who needs to be at a meeting and how to extract oneself from a meeting that is not ethical to the work that they do.
[00:03:30] It was a huge question I just threw at you, Jill.
[00:03:33] Jill: So many parts, so many parts to that. So I think this is really timely because clearly lots of other, uh, people in the world of leadership and organizational psychology are thinking about this as well. I just listened to a podcast by Adam Grant. Uh, his podcast is called rethinking and he just did an episode called why meetings suck and how to fix them.
[00:03:57] So, uh, if that title makes perfect sense, but basically meetings, according to Adam and his guests are, there are 4 reasons to me. So you’re looking for input from colleagues. You’re there’s information sharing that needs to happen. You’re going to put something to action, meaning you’re going to vote on something or decide on something that requires a group conversation.
[00:04:24] And you’re going to do something together. So those are the four reasons to have a meeting. Now, if you as a leader just want to Announce something that’s not a meeting. That’s an email. Uh, if you want to find out what kind of pizza everyone loves For the staff meeting. That’s not a meeting that that’s that’s an email or a little poll or doodle poll or something.
[00:04:49] So, unless it’s one of these overarching bigger things, then a meeting is it doesn’t seem to be necessary when we’re talking about these committee kind of ongoing meetings. And so, if you. As a leader are finding that there’s a lot of meetings that don’t make sense. And if you’re a participant that’s finding that there’s a lot of meetings that don’t make sense, then there doesn’t seem to be a clear purpose to the meeting, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear understanding about who should be included in the meeting, who’s part of the decision, who can share information, who can create input, which voices are actually necessary in order to move whatever this issue is forward.
[00:05:31] I mean, meetings have the ability if you’re talking about a board meeting or a higher level committee kind of meeting, they can really bring whatever the vision is of the leader to some kind of reality by framing and unifying the work that’s going to happen. To make that to make that clear. Um, the process of a meeting creates buy in.
[00:05:53] It moves the work forward. I mean, I’m a fan of meetings if they’re if they’re done correctly, um, and there should be a point to being there. Everybody should feel that there is a point to that. Yeah, that’s
[00:06:08] Tara: That’s really helpful as a starting point, because the whole idea of meetings right we all think many people think of meetings as being a time suck often, but your point is well taken that you have to have a purpose for the meeting and really understand when it should be a meeting and when it shouldn’t.
[00:06:25] So once you’ve decided that you’re having a meeting. You know, what’s the best way to structure that, um, so that you can be as efficient as possible, respectful of people’s time. I know oftentimes people roll over agendas when you have them. So how to keep on task and, and when it comes to agendas, what are your thoughts on those in terms of, do you recommend that they be sent out ahead of time for feedback, um, or just shared when the meeting starts, let’s talk a little bit about agendas and kind of staying on schedule with meetings.
[00:06:55] Jill: Yeah, I think agendas are hugely important. They particularly for larger, repetitive, you know, not not repetitive, uh, recurring, recurring meetings. Um, they’re incredibly important because they, they indicate that you heard what was happening at the last meeting. There were action items that happened and then you’re now moving forward based on what happened before or there’s new information to consider for this group.
[00:07:24] So agendas are key. Whoever owns the meeting creates the agenda. So whether it’s the board chair or the head of school or the committee chair, they create the agenda. They ask for input or feedback on the agenda by sending the agenda out usually three days in advance. So, is there anything that needs to be corrected or changed or added?
[00:07:43] Um, if you’re meeting agenda looks exactly the same month after month with the same broad categories, there’s no action items. There’s no new information coming forward. There’s no. Um, ways to continue the forward movement of the work, then it’s probably something more akin to a support group than an actual business meeting.
[00:08:06] So think about what that is. And if that’s really what you want, and if everybody’s actually gaining anything from that format. I like agendas that have time frames attached to them. I usually when I craft them. So something will have five minutes or 10 minutes or 20 minutes attached to it depending on what we’re going to do.
[00:08:27] And, and sometimes I time it to, and I’ll give people a two minute warning that we’re going to wrap up the discussion. It’s. Important to make sure everybody feels heard. It’s also important to make sure that there’s materials sent in advance if there’s going to be an action item or a vote. So I expect everybody to have looked over these things and be ready, ready to vote on this.
[00:08:49] Um, I don’t want to hear a lot of. That’s not the time for generative discussion. Generative discussion would have happened before that, so that we get to the point of the vote.
[00:09:01] Tara: I want to jump in and ask a question about this because the things that you’re saying make so much sense. As you know, The person running the meeting might not be someone who’s comfortable cracking the whip like that, like sounds like needs to happen.
[00:09:15] So I know the person who organizes the meeting is the leader of the meeting. But would you say that, um, it’s helpful to have someone else or have a person designated as the. As the whip, you know, as the timekeeper or something so that the person who’s running the meeting can focus on running the meeting.
[00:09:34] And then there’s someone whose job everyone knows is to be like the meanie in there who says we have to stop and move on. What do you think about
[00:09:41] Jill: that? Yeah, you certainly can have a timekeeper if that makes more sense. Um, in the Adam Grant podcast, they suggest the idea of rotating leadership. of the meeting.
[00:09:55] So in order to kind of foster leadership skills and, uh, experience different leadership styles in a meeting. So if you have a committee of six people, then perhaps you rotate and it’s a monthly meeting, perhaps two, twice a year, everyone gets to lead this meeting and set the agenda and sort of see how that feels.
[00:10:13] So that would certainly increase engagement. If everybody knew they had to lead a meet, lead the meeting. Um, at some point during the year. Um, I, I think though that if it’s hard to keep the meeting under control, there’s probably some, uh, coaching or mentoring that the leader might benefit from if that’s a really difficult situation.
[00:10:37] Sometimes there’s individual people that can derail the meeting. And I usually like to have conversations with those people ahead of the meeting. So I’m clear on what. Is what they’re thinking about the materials, what they’re thinking about the meeting, um, things that might come up. I don’t like to be blindsided at meetings.
[00:10:55] So, but I also like to set time specifically for generative conversation where kind of anything goes. So there might be 15 minutes dedicated to generative conversation, particularly at a board meeting or a, um, uh, administrative team meeting. So
[00:11:16] Aubrey: that’s so interesting. I think like how you said, like there could be potentially, you know, is it a support meeting or is it?
[00:11:23] Are you actually getting things done right there? And then setting the time frames and having someone time, um, and keep everyone accountable is really key to moving those meetings forwards. Um, and I like the idea from Adam Grant about switching leadership in the meeting that gives everyone a chance to be responsible and to You know, experience different leadership styles.
[00:11:44] So great. Um, great strategies here for people to try out. Um, now I’m curious, you did mention you kind of alluded to this, like you’re coming to a meeting. Um, and, you know, perhaps you made a decision at some point during a past meeting. So let’s talk about like what happens at the end of the meeting. And then afterward, like how do leaders ensure that those action items that we’ve previously mentioned from a meeting are delegated to task owners and everything mentioned in the meeting is not forgotten.
[00:12:13] And also, how do you, do you recommend like tracking projects and communications between
[00:12:18] Jill: meetings? Yeah, so at the end of when I either take minutes or someone on my team takes minutes for for a meeting. Um, I always have action items at the end of the minutes. So those are things that people agreed to or that we voted on or.
[00:12:38] Think more things that have to happen in advance of the next meeting as a result of conversation that we had, uh, there might be a document that needs to be created by someone. There might be more information that has to come forward in order for us to do this or that. Those are in the form of action items and they have an owner, meaning they’ve been assigned to somebody.
[00:12:59] Someone needs to do this action. So as the meeting owner, I know now, I now know where my follow up items are. And so does everybody else. And so then I’ll usually check back if we, if this group meets monthly, I’ll check back two weeks later with each of these individual people, find out where, um, where they are in this process.
[00:13:21] Are they going to, is it moving along? Is it, are they able to get it done? If not, why not? Do they need more information or support? That sort of thing. Um, you talked also, what did you ask me about tracking? Yes. Yeah, so some, some schools, some schools or organizations will use actual project management tracking.
[00:13:44] They’ll put things in Trello or Asana, that sort of thing. They might talk with each other via Slack. Um, I usually just use Google, you know, Google, um, drive and email to do that, but every group can operate however, whatever makes sense to them.
[00:14:01] Tara: Something cool I’ve noticed in Google calendar is that there’s a button automatically in your meeting that creates a Google doc where you, where you can put an agenda or action items.
[00:14:11] And it actually puts like, uh, an outline of action items in there if nobody else. Has discovered that it’s pretty cool. And it ties it to the actual event and puts it in a, you know, in your Google drive. So that’s a cool little bonus of using Google, Google drive. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Let’s, uh, let’s kind of move on from this idea of follow up and.
[00:14:35] Maybe jump into a tricky subject, which is how do you navigate when somebody doesn’t execute on the steps from the previous meeting? What, what are your suggestions for, um, for that situation where people show up for the next meeting and they haven’t done what they were supposed to?
[00:14:54] Jill: Well, if, if you’ve been following up with them in the course of the meeting, you should know that they didn’t do what they were supposed to do and then accommodate accordingly.
[00:15:04] Either that item can’t be brought forward for vote because you don’t have this information or it moves to the next meeting or it’s no longer. You resolve it in an email later. If someone consistently or constantly doesn’t perform or doesn’t do the things that they say, then it’s possible that this is not the right role for them.
[00:15:27] And I have counseled people off of my volunteer committees because, you know, might just not be the right time in their life to take on this kind of responsibility. Uh, so. There might be more conversation or guiding having to do with that and also thinking about what we assign to which people if they can’t follow through.
[00:15:48] And are they really great? Are they really the right people on the team? So, yeah, yeah, that makes sense. But everyone should know if they’re, if you’re being led. By someone who is a good leader that, um, the work that they’re asked to do will actually move the vision, move the mission forward. And if they do not do that, then these pieces of business will not move forward.
[00:16:13] And that will reflect poorly on them and hold up the organization. So, um, we want everyone to do the best work they can do that. We want everyone to contribute in ways that are meaningful and. germane to their particular expertise. So as a leader, we want to encourage that in every way we can.
[00:16:33] Tara: Yeah. I’m thinking a little bit about all of this as it applies to internal meetings for school leaders, but also to boards, right.
[00:16:43] Which is a, which is a kind of a different situation in a way, because oftentimes they are volunteers, right. And so having them follow through, um, In my experience, sometimes board members are not as able to do that. And so it’s I think maybe also going back to the beginning of what’s who is who is the meeting for what’s the purpose of the meeting.
[00:17:04] You may also have to adjust your expectations a little bit based on on that. Would you
[00:17:10] Jill: agree? Yes, I mean, I spent an enormous amount of my career and volunteer life managing volunteers. So I’ve been managing volunteers probably since I was 16 years old. So there’s lots of lessons to be learned in managing volunteers.
[00:17:26] Volunteers are. Wonderful. Uh, they’re rarer now, actually, as more and more people work full time. So they’re a rarer commodity. So when you do have a volunteer, it’s even more important that we think about the time and the expertise. and the value that they’re bringing to your organization and to make sure that that’s cultivated and brought along and acknowledged and used, taken in for the, for the incredibly valuable thing that it is.
[00:18:01] That said, volunteers generally need a much longer runway to complete their tasks. So if we expect our colleagues or paid colleagues or consultants that we’re paying, we expect a certain timeline. And for them to adhere to that timeline, volunteers generally, in my experience, take at least twice that time.
[00:18:21] So when you’re project managing something, you know, things are going to take twice as long. Which is why when you’re planning the dreaded gala, it takes nine months and rather than three or four months it should take if you have a full staff of paid people. Yeah,
[00:18:39] Tara: yeah, that’s super helpful. Thanks. I’m glad we talked about that and touched on that because I think that’s really important.
[00:18:45] What great reminders of how to how to approach meetings, mindfully. Right, Aubrey?
[00:18:52] Aubrey: Absolutely. And speaking of mindfully, um, through the lens of our podcast, we obviously talk about mindfulness and how it applies to school leaders and marketers. Um, so since this is a topic about meetings, um, we’d love to know your thoughts on like how mindfulness can improve the process of holding
[00:19:10] Jill: meetings.
[00:19:12] So not only did I listen to the Adam Grant podcast, but there was another podcast that I
[00:19:18] Tara: love. You’re my podcast buddy. We always, you always have great podcasts.
[00:19:22] Jill: And that one is nine to five ish, which is the, the founders of the skim. I don’t know if you. It’s like a news, news outlet. Um, and the guest on this one was Michelle Krosanmatos, who’s the CMO of Ulta, the cosmetic store brand.
[00:19:38] And she was talking about intuition and experience as a leader. And so with experience, You gain a certain kind of intuition about people and about the people on your team, and you can anticipate how people will react and what they need from you as a leader, and how to bring people along with the vision and how that vision will speak to them.
[00:19:58] Because as a leader, part of your job is not only identifying the vision, but bringing that vision to life. And the way that you do that is with your teammates. You can’t do that alone. Otherwise you would be a one person deal. So if you’re leading a school, there are lots of people who have the capacity and that you need to help bring this vision along.
[00:20:19] And you’ll start to be able to anticipate that, but you also need to take time. And that’s where the mindfulness comes in. So you need to take time To see how your project or mission is unfolding and what it will really take to bring it forward and who will help or who might deter that. And what do all those voices.
[00:20:41] say, what does that mean? Um, and how you can really inspire the people that you have on your team to do the best work that can. So it’s sort of connecting the dots, um, bringing data together, bringing experience together, not just pushing people to do work, uh, or holding the feet to the fire. That’s not really what leadership is about.
[00:21:02] Um, but they need to be able to In truth, do the work yourself in some cases, if your team is not doing it while you figure out how to either bring your team along or, um, put new people in place.
[00:21:17] Tara: That’s really helpful. I, I, I’ve not heard of that podcast, first of all. So now I have to add that to my list as well.
[00:21:23] But, um, but I, I love how you ended that in terms of softening a little bit, the, all of what we talked about before, which seems a little bit intimidating as a leader to have to be, I think, to have to be so, um, on task and have to hold people feet to the fire. Um, Yeah. You know, so talking about being mindful of of your role as a leader and and setting a vision and and making people feel appreciated and valued as well.
[00:21:53] I think is also really important to kind of bring this in a full circle. So thank you for sharing all these great ideas. We were I’m so glad that we had you on to talk about this. We are going to end with some rapid fire questions, which you’ve answered before, so we’ll give you the opportunity to. Um, change it up, or maybe you’ll say the same things that you said before,
[00:22:15] Okay. But her first rapid fire question is if you could put one book as mandatory reading in the high school curriculum, what would it be?
[00:22:24] Jill: Oh, you know, I don’t like this question , but you don’t have to answer it. I don’t teach high school and it’s so hard to know. Um, I think I said something about financial literacy last time.
[00:22:36] Yes, you did. Um, which I still hold true to, but. There, there must be something out there also to to, um, just help high school students just navigate their, uh, social life and their situation and figure out, um, uh, figure out the best way to do that to both, uh, interact online as well as in person, because I know that that’s.
[00:23:02] It’s something that’s been, uh, difficult for kids in the wake of the pandemic. So
[00:23:08] Tara: yeah, more and more for sure. Well, we’ll look for a book on that topic. Yeah.
[00:23:13] Aubrey: Thanks, Jill. Yes. Those are both financial literacy and that are incredibly important, um, to high school students at this time. So thank you for sharing onto the next rapid fire question.
[00:23:24] What is one app you couldn’t live without?
[00:23:29] Jill: I don’t use a ton of apps. I need to talk to Tara more about that. Clearly I’m not even using Google barely to its, to its potential. So, um, I think the one that I said last time was Grammarly still hold by that. Uh, um, my navigation maps. You know, I would be really, really lost without that, for sure.
[00:23:52] Well, your podcast app, too. Yes, all my, yes, my, my podcast app. That would be very unfortunate if that went away. So, yeah. I
[00:24:03] Aubrey: love it. I know you are our go to podcast person, Jill. Yes, you are. Like, I love your recommendations, so. Oh, thank you.
[00:24:11] Tara: Alright, are you reading anything right now that you’d like to share?
[00:24:14] Jill: Um, yes, I’m thinking about students and their wellness and well being so I am reading or just read growing up in public by Devorah Heitner, which is a really fascinating book about coming of age in a digital world. So, I bet that’s
[00:24:35] Aubrey: fascinating. I should put that on. We’ll put it on our Goodreads list, right, Tara?
[00:24:39] Yeah. I’ll add it to my ever growing need to read book list, so thank you for sharing.
[00:24:45] Jill: I mean, if I had young children, if I had young kids, that would, it’s a must read. Oh, then I have to read it. Yeah.
[00:24:54] Aubrey: Must read, I will. Um, thank you for sharing, Jill. What is one great piece of advice you’d like to leave us with?
[00:25:02] Well, since
[00:25:02] Jill: we’re talking about leaders, I think the advice or the thoughts I want to leave you with is that leadership is about the people that you choose to have on your team. And there’s a, there’s a choice here, you know, and I think that’s important to that as a leader, you have a choice. To who’s on your team and how you craft that team.
[00:25:21] And is, are your teammates on board with the vision? And do they have the skill set that the organization really needs? Uh, and, and then also can you give them the tools and support to move the organization forward with you? And, um,
[00:25:38] Tara: Great, good advice. Thank you, Jill. We really appreciate your joining us again and sharing such great advice and ideas for running meetings and, and being a good leader.
[00:25:49] Well, where can people find you? Sure. Thank you for having me online, Jill.
[00:25:54] Jill: You can find me at my website. JillGoodmanConsulting. com. You can find me on Instagram and you can find me on LinkedIn. Thank you again, Jill.
[00:26:05] Tara: Thanks for joining us.
[00:26:07] Jill: Thank you. All right. Bye bye. Bye. Bye. Yay.