More Effective Meetings= More Effective (and Happier) Team

 

One of the most common complaints we hear from “corporate America” is the time they feel is wasted by attending internal meetings. It breaks up the day, takes up valuable time from completing one's regular workload, they don’t understand why it is necessary, and ultimately changes nothing. In short, why did they have a meeting at all?

 

If you are managing a team, then your ability to have effective meetings is critical to your success as a manager and the ultimate effectiveness of your team. And really, it is not that difficult to do. The problem is that most managers are not prepared and don’t take the time to do what is necessary before the meeting.

 

Here are the basics of what you need to do in order to have a successful meeting:

  1. Communicate with the team (all meeting participants) well in advance of the meeting -not the day of...
    1. Date, time, place, length of meeting -so people can plan accordingly
    2. Purpose of the meeting
    3. What will be accomplished by the end of the meeting
    4. Any “assignments” for participants in order to prepare for the meeting. You do not want to blindside someone by asking for information or a report that they do not know they need to present.
    5. Provide the agenda --in advance, not at the meeting. This allows people to think about the subject before the meeting rather than being put on the spot for an opinion.
  2. Start on time. Do not make those who come at the appointed time waste time by waiting for others who are habitually late.
  3. Restate the purpose of the meeting, the process you will use, and expected outcome (“The budget for marketing will be decided”—for example).
  4. Control the meeting. This is where a lot of managers fail. Keep track of the time and stay on time. If participants get off topic on a subject that has no bearing on the discussion, suggest that you make a note of the issue and table it for another meeting. In fact, one of the best ways to do this is to estimate, in advance of the meeting, how long each subject or speaker will need. If you can provide these details to the participants before the meeting, they will also know they are to make their point in 5 minutes (or whatever time frame you set)—not 50.
  5. At the end of the meeting, verbally recap the meeting content and state the decisions made. Provide assignments to participants for “next steps.” You will have a stronger team if members are engaged in the process. They will also be more likely to want to attend meetings if they are an integral part of it. A manager should not do all the work and then just tell the team what is going on.
  6. Follow-up with an email to all participants, restating the meeting summary (or minutes if someone took them), next steps, time frame, etc.. Thank people for their time and participation.

 

Lastly, some teams meet on a regular basis just because they have always done it that way. Ask yourself if the meeting is beneficial in any way. If not, either don’t have the meeting, or figure out how to make it beneficial. Consider combining meetings so there are fewer of them, but more impactful. No one wants to meet for “no apparent reason,” but unfortunately, people in corporate America often do.