Many employees probably groan and grumble when they see that the boss has scheduled yet another meeting. I believe that doesn’t have to be the case. Meetings aren’t terrible, it’s just that most people are terrible at running meetings.
5 strategies for having good meetings
If you want to make the best use of people’s time in your meetings and improve employee morale and productivity in the process, there are five simple things you need to do.
• Have an agenda.
Meetings that don’t have a clear agenda tend to get off track easily. They also often include people who don’t need to be there and would be better off back at their desks completing important projects. The agenda can be short and still include the main purpose of the meeting, possible outcomes, and action items to be covered.
An agenda prevents the meeting from being hijacked by some random topic. It also allows more introverted team members to prepare ahead of time what they want to say in the meeting. Most introverts won’t chime in when they don’t know the agenda ahead of time, which means you could miss great input.
• Determine a meeting style.
There are basically three styles of meetings: information share, creative discussion and consensus decision.
In an information-share meeting, the information flows in one direction. Either employees tell the leadership something, or senior management has something to say to employees.
Creative discussions are brainstorming sessions. People toss out ideas without any judgments made about feasibility or validity, and decisions come later.
Consensus-decision meetings are held when a decision is needed. These meetings can get testy so be certain to establish a few ground rules going in. Once the meeting is over and consensus has been reached, put any disagreement behind you, and don’t continue arguments outside the meeting.
• Start on time and end early.
If you scheduled the meeting for 10 a.m., start at 10 a.m. This shows respect for people’s times and good management skills. End meetings early if you can. That gives people time to grab a cup of coffee, check emails, go to the restroom, or chat with colleagues before their next meeting.
• Foster useful communication.
Some people talk a lot in every meeting. Others rarely speak. For a meeting to be successful, get everyone engaged. Foster dialogue with newcomers or quiet people. Go around the table and solicit feedback or ideas. Have a “be present” rule: make sure people aren’t distracted because they are responding to email on their cell phones or laptops.
• Know your role.
Every meeting should have a chair, a timekeeper, participants and a closer.
The chair announces the type of meeting it is, makes sure everyone sticks with the agenda, and prevents the meeting from going sideways.
The timekeeper does what the name implies, making sure everyone stays on schedule and that no one lingers too long on any one point.
The participants should not be passive observers. They need to arrive prepared to contribute and to remain interested throughout the meeting.
The closer usually the chair, who closes the meeting by recapping action items, i.e., who’s doing what and by when, and agreements. This step assures 1) that participants have noted their assignment and deadline for achieving it, and 2) that everyone is on the same page about decisions made.
Employee frustration drops drastically when you keep meetings focused on the task at hand and avoid people’s wasting time.
About today’s guest LeadBIG contributor: Cameron Herold is an author and business man best known as the driving force behind 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s spectacular growth from $2 million to $106 million in revenue in six years. Cameron is a top-rated lecturer at the EO/MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program as well as a speaker at EO/YPO and Vistage events around the world.
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