Business workers fighting in a meeting

Meetings in any organisation or project are unavoidable. As much as we’d all like to be someplace else, they are a necessary aspect to our day to day operations. There are two types of meetings. The first type are a source of engagement, direction and progress and the second is the birth place of great frustration, politics, avoidance and time wasting. The effectiveness or lack of in a meeting is the barometer to a team’s health and observing a leadership team meeting can usually identify where the challenges lie culturally in a particular organisation or project.

So why are effective meetings so important? They affect everyone in the organisation at every level, they consume precious time and energy and are often a large source of staff discontent and cynicism. All of these factors can have a large impact on your culture.
Any organisation or project can create fundamental impact by changing the way that they run meetings.

Here are my Top 8 Insights to Maximising Meetings:

1. Do a stocktake – review each current meeting for its value – what it offers if anything! Ask who is currently attending and who needs to attend? Cull appropriately in terms of attendees and frequency.

2. Set an objective – ensure every meeting has a purpose and a formal agenda that focuses on time spent on what matters. If what you are looking to achieve is unclear then the meeting can turn into nothing more than a be a very expensive discussion. Are there better ways to achieve the intended outcomes rather than through meetings?

3. Learn to chair – make sure every person that runs meetings has undertaken training on how to chair a meeting. This is critical not only for them to manage the meeting effectively but also critical for attendees to see meetings well managed.

4. Be brief – focus on actions and outcomes coming out of each discussion point and ensure meetings end with everyone being very clear on the commitments made at the meeting. Long winded meeting minutes are normally a sign of butt covering or politics which has no place in a high performing culture. If people can’t attend a meeting, it is their responsibility to talk to someone who attended it if they want more detail.

5. Take action – ensure minutes focus on actions and accountability, also ensure that minutes takers have had training on how to minute meetings. Both sets of training discussed will be a small cost for a massive benefit for your organisation or project.

6. Be accountable – ensure there is accountability on all participants to prepare prior to the session. This can be strengthened by ensuring agendas, discussion items and information is put out well in advance of the meeting. Lock in minimum dates for getting agendas and reports out and stick to them.

7. Stay focused – timeliness is next to godliness! Put clocks in every meeting room and ensure you have a focus on time, actions and outcomes. Stick to time through facilitating focused discussions.

8. Use a checklist – have someone review the meeting as the last agenda item against a simple review checklist. Their role is to debrief for three minutes at the end on what worked well in the meeting and how it can improve for the future. It is frank, honest and really ensures accountability around maximising your time together.

In order to shift your performance as a team, you need to go straight to the source of frustration rather than the outcomes. Meetings are can either drive poor decisions or significantly increase your teams effectiveness. Think about what you want to achieve and make sure your meetings are driving the right performance.