One thing everyone can agree with is their universal hate of meetings. Every organization has them and they seem to take on a life of their own. The truth is that while meetings, in theory, are supposed to help leaders and their employees keep up to date, pass along information and make decisions, the reality is that very little gets accomplished.
Leaders have the power to stop this meeting madness. While meetings are necessary for productivity, communication, and transparency, many companies handle them poorly and they end up being the enemy. The problem lies in a “status quo” mentality, where people are so used to going through the motions, they don’t realize that there can be a better way. There’s so much discussing, that it doesn’t leave enough time for any doing. This is why many leaders, and in turn, their followers, literally spend more time in meetings than doing their job.
Being extremely frustrated with meetings myself, I decided that I would apply the same problem-solving process we use for assessing any business problem, in this case, meetings. I created a meetings model consisting of several elements that have been proven to fundamentally change the nature of meetings, get better results and recover enormous amounts of time that can be put to more productive outcomes.
Here are my 5 Tips:
1. Cut time length and be disciplined about attendees
Keep meetings short and sweet. Shoot to have meetings last no longer than 30 minutes, or less if that can get the job done. Attendance should be on a “need” basis, not simply inviting the names that come to your mind. It is not necessary for three people from a single department to attend a meeting – have one attend and report out to the team, allowing the other two to do real work.
2. Prepare an agenda and send materials out in advance
Focus your objective by making sure the agenda is clear and crisp. Clearly express why this meeting is scheduled, what will be discussed, and what type of outcome you expect. Send this information out at least 48-hours prior to the allotted time, providing your employees sufficient time to prepare and formulate their own thoughts and ideas about the subjects to be discussed. Most importantly, you will be able to skip the “catch up” segment of the meeting and immediately start talking about solutions and action, allowing time for meaningful discussion and ultimately new decisions.