Do You Need a Meeting Tune-Up?
Everything about work has changed drastically over the past year since COVID arrived, yet business has had to carry on despite the obvious enormous challenges. The necessity to continue to hold meetings with your team is still necessary. In fact, I would go so far as to say much more now than ever – only with a new twist.
I have written in the past about how in a perfect world, meetings would represent opportunities for people to communicate, share ideas, develop strategies, craft initiatives, and build strong bonds with one another. And more often than we realize, we waste a significant amount of time in meetings that result in no action, follow-up, or delivery of results.
The time-wasting factor, having no agenda and no one capturing minutes or action items are still very real concerns, yet the atmosphere of most meetings has changed, as it should. At least that is what I have been observing over the past year with various organizational leaders. Leaders have had to step up to the plate like never before. They must balance carrying out the business of the day while ensuring their people are feeling supported and heard.
This is where you can bring your EQ (Emotional Intelligence) to the forefront and keep one crucial thing in mind – the importance of active listening. It is one of the pillars of Grounded Leadership that I passionately believe is essential to every meeting, no matter the topic.
When organizing your next meeting, keep in mind that you still need to:
- Be on time or arrive slightly ahead of schedule to greet your attendees if you are chairing the meeting.
- Set a clear agenda and stick to it.
- Stick to the established time frame so you respect everyone’s time.
- Listen attentively and ask questions to engage others in the brainstorming and collaboration process. If you need to download information or key messages, then set that expectation with the participants and always allow time for questions and answers afterwards.
- Moderate appropriately. Do not let the loudest, most extroverted voices dominate; you need to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
Unfortunately, we are not taught how to run meetings unless we proactively seek out coaching or training to make us more effective. This is an ongoing concern I hear from the leaders: “My days are full of fruitless meetings, so I end up doing my job after hours and on weekends. Or, “My company wastes hours of useless time in meetings that result in no real actionable items or outcomes.”
Make the Best Use of Your Time and Everyone Else's
In today’s business climate, we can not be wasting time. Time is precious, not only to your organization but to your people. Remember that your people are juggling much more than they used to. And with the advent of remote working, it’s even more important to run effective meetings that are inclusive, have a defined purpose, and have clearly established action items and owners.
An important rule of thumb: Only include people the meeting is relevant to and ensure they will be active participants. Establish rules of engagement that define what is expected from them and how the meeting will be run. Encourage everyone to be fully present, no multi-taking or checking their devices.
Preparation and Follow Up
Many of the problematic issues with meetings can be solved by addressing what happens before and after the fact.
Before the meeting:
- Make sure it’s necessary. If an issue doesn’t require group collaboration, you may be able to convey the required information in a quick call or email.
- Address expectations and inform participants what you expect from them.
- Ask participants for input regarding what should be discussed during the meeting.
- Create a meeting-and-participant-appropriate agenda and establish rules of engagement.
After the meeting:
- Identify topics that have not reached closure and create action plans to address them. Keep track of the closure rate, too — if you are consistently closing only 50% of topics during meetings, you need to simplify and streamline your agendas.
- Be deliberate and ensure ongoing communication with participants to give them an opportunity to share their individual concerns and follow up questions.
- Send out meeting summaries within a reasonable time frame. Participants should have access to summaries within the same or next day of the meeting to keep information top-of-mind and enable them to carry out action items.
Do You Need a Meeting Tune Up?
Meetings can be a source of stress for both leaders and teams if not run efficiently. By following the advice above, you can transform the way meetings are handled within your organization so you can improve engagement, communication, and productivity.
If you need guidance on how to lead better meetings, please reach out. You can call me at 855.871.3374 or email me at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!