Tact and diplomacy may be admirable executive skills, but when it comes to moderating weekly staff meetings, it may be best to dispense with the formalities. Just ask Cecil Ursprung, president of Reflexite Inc., a $20-million reflective-plastic products maker in New Britain, Conn., whose weekly staff meetings recently grew from 6 to 14 people.
"These people have no problem speaking up," says Ursprung. "We realized if everybody contributed at the same rate as when six people attended, it would last half a day." So to keep the contributions brief, he invested in a $6 alarm clock. Now, each staffer can stump for six minutes before the alarm rings. "The return on investment is incalculable," quips Ursprung, who says the meetings stick close to the target 84 minutes -- and he doesn't have to play the heavy.