High-quality minutes guaranteed
How do you guarantee quality in a growing organisation? With a growing number of clients and minutes secretaries, Emma Handson also ran into this issue. We tackle this by making use of quality coaches. Laura and Angela talk about their work as quality coaches.
When Laura started taking minutes for Emma Handson, there were only two minutes secretaries. “You could easily discuss how to approach issues together,” says Laura. Seven years later, there are more than fourty minutes secretaries and a multitude of clients, all of whom have their own specific wishes. “With this growth, there was an increasing need for a comprehensive onboarding programme,” explains Angela. “It became increasingly important to train new colleagues for the wide variety of clients and meetings. We then expanded on the training provided and, as quality coaches, we focus on everything concerning quality.”
The quality coaches are experienced minutes secretaries and share their knowledge and experience with colleagues. Laura: “We have a very high standard and the quality of the minutes must be the same regardless of which minutes secretary has prepared them. As quality coaches, we guide the minutes secretaries and ensure that any necessary adjustments are made behind the scenes. This way, the client is guaranteed minutes of high quality every single time.”
The quality coaches do some activities together, such as leading workshops, but also have separate work. Angela leads an extensive onboarding programme for new minutes secretaries. “New colleagues first receive a comprehensive explanation and start to practise taking minutes,” explains Angela. “When a new colleague is ready for their first meeting, I work together with Support to determine which meeting best suits them. Ideally, the first meeting is only one or two hours long and is a similar type of meeting to one that the new minutes secretary has had practice on. I coach the minutes secretary before and after the meeting. I also listen to the entire recording of the first meeting. During the follow‑up discussion, I provide extensive feedback that the minutes secretary can work on for the next meeting.”
The next phase
“When minutes secretaries are a bit more advanced, I guide them,” Laura continues. “Instead of providing step‑by‑step explanations, the responsibility falls somewhat more on the minutes secretary. We keep in touch when preparing for the meeting and the minutes secretary can, for example, indicate any tricky items in the meeting documents and whether difficult agenda topics are to be expected. After the meeting, we discuss what went well and if they experienced any issues. This way, I can give advice to the minutes secretary before they start writing the minutes. I proofread the minutes and only listen to parts of the recording if asked to do so by the minutes secretary. I also give the minutes secretary extensive feedback on points that need improvement.”
Experienced minutes secretaries
All minutes, including those prepared by experienced minutes secretaries, are proofread to ensure high quality. However, this is mainly done by minutes proofreaders / text correctors rather than by the quality coaches. They make sure that any mistakes are corrected, as the minutes secretary, concerned with the content and (re)wording of sentences, may have missed these. The quality coaches remain available for the minutes secretary. “We continue to monitor quality, but above all we want to show that we are there,” Laura points out. “For new colleagues, but also for those who have been working at Emma Handson for a long time.”
The quality coaches are also available to answer questions and proactively share their knowledge. For example, they have developed several workshops. “Each workshop focuses on a different topic,” explains Angela. “On methods for taking minutes, but also on language use and the pension fund sector, for which we prepare a lot of minutes. These workshops are especially helpful because the minutes secretary receives tips not only from us, but also from each other.” Laura also leads a workshop on preparing minutes for investment committee meetings. “Many find these meetings intimidating, but this is completely unnecessary,” laughs Laura. “I help minutes secretaries with the jargon and teach them how to tackle these niche meetings as a minutes secretary.”
Quality comes first
Clearly, the minutes secretaries at Emma Handson know what they are doing and always ensure high-quality minutes, in part thanks to our quality coaches. Angela says: “Quality is absolutely number one for us. Our goal as quality coaches is to contribute to minutes of consistently high quality for our clients.”
Do you have an affinity for language and are you interested in becoming a great minutes secretary? We would love to help you with that! Check out our vacancies for the latest opportunities.