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Effective meetings and powerful teams the subject for BII seminar

Industrial psychologist:Paul Loftus.

Conducting effective meetings and building high performance teams will be the focus for a series of seminars held at the Bermuda Insurance Institute (BII) this month.

The seminars, which will be given by Paul Loftus, a Montreal-based international management development consultant, will help delegates to cut their meeting time by half and increase productivity through effective team management.

They are targeted at executives, managers, team leaders and others who have to hold meetings and will be participant oriented.

Mr. Loftus, who doubles up as an industrial/organisational psychologist, has been hosting seminars in Bermuda for more than 20 years for the likes of Appleby, the Bank of Bermuda, Richards, Francis & Francis, the Government of Bermuda, the Bermuda Employers' Council (BEC) and the Argus Group.

He said the conducting effective meetings seminar has become popular because more middle managers were spending more time in meetings, with an estimated one-third of their time being taken up by meetings at a big cost to them and their company.

Among the costs that need to be considered were those of something not being done at the expense of the meeting, and room rentals and meals for off-site meetings, said Mr. Loftus.

"I think the idea is that we want to make sure that we spend time in meetings and that time is productive," he said.

"Research shows that more than 90 percent of meeting participants feel that at least 50 percent of their time spent in meetings is wasted, so it is all about how to make meetings more effective."

The conducting effective meetings seminar will look at appreciating the purpose of the meeting, the role of the chairperson, calculating the cost of meetings, learning how to control a meeting, identifying techniques of follow-up, evaluating meeting effectiveness and dealing with problem attendees.

It is broken into six parts, including planning, from objectives, calculating the cost of meetings, problems with meetings and improving meetings to when to and not to call a meeting, types of meetings and advantages of proper planning.

Organisation, featuring meeting checklists, objectives, agenda, visual aids and physical arrangements; conducting meetings, using brainstorming, decision making techniques and minutes; controlling meetings, encompassing the role of the chairperson to dealing with problem participants; concluding meetings, through assigning responsibilities, arranging follow-ups, meeting effectiveness situation and group dynamics; as well as evaluating meetings, via self-assessments and areas for improvement, will also be covered.

Meanwhile the building high performance centres on how teams develop and the roles that need to be performed for teams to be successful, different decision-making methods, obtaining synergy in teams, assessing team effectiveness, problems to avoid in team-building, staying focused on team objectives.

It will determine the advantages and disadvantages of teams, stages and elements of team development and teamwork, role functions in a team and ground rules, and decision-making methods and guidelines.

"I have been coming to Bermuda for over 20 years now, starting with an assignment for the BEC and have done a lot of company programmes with a lot of organisations," he said.

"It is very much a diverse society and my experience of Bermuda has been wonderful because the people are really enthusiastic, which makes my job a lot easier and more enjoyable.

"What I am hoping that people take away from the seminars are how to cut their meeting time in half and things that people will be able to use to increase productivity of their team by managing them effectively.

"If you are able to work with people from different companies in a team at the BII, you should be able to put these skills into effect right away in your own company."

Mr. Loftus will be using a variety of methods during the seminars, such as hands-on group and individual exercises and simulations, case studies, self-assessments and videos to get his message across during the two days of seminars.

Mr. Loftus, who has experience of working in insurance in the UK and Canada and obtained his Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers, banking has carried out a number of seminars for banks, insurers, law firms, governments, oil companies and hospitals across Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

He is also president of the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce, co-founder and director of the Montreal Trainers' Group and a member of the Quebec Association for Adult Learning, The Canadian Society for Training and Development, The American Society for Training and Development and The American Management Association among others.

His firm, called Paul Loftus & Associated Inc., specialises in international management and organisational development consultancy and holds workshops and seminars tailor-made for managers, supervisors and team leaders, and administrative, personal assistants and secretaries, as well as running a Certificate in Professionalism for Office Professionals

The conducting effective meetings seminar will he held at the BII on Thursday September 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the building high performance teams seminar will be held at the same venue on Friday September 26 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For further information contact the BII at 295-1596 or visit the website at www.bii.bm.