Meetings continue to be one of the top time wasters for teams across the industries and continents. This is why I decided to share with you my top tips to help you power up meetings to get your team more engaged and ultimately more productive.
But first, let’s look at what’s happening in today’s workplaces. Statistics show that mid managers spend 35% of their time in meetings, the number goes up to about 50% for upper management. What’s even scarier is how unproductive these meetings are. In fact, about 67% of meetings are considered a failure.
It’s about time to change the statistics. Here are some power tips to help you start the transformation and power up meetings in your organization.
1. Pick attendees carefully
Before you invite people, ensure that you invite only individuals who absolutely need to be there. This will save everybody’s time and energy.
2. Have meeting before meeting
This one I have learned from my mentor John Maxwell. Meeting with team members individually can help save tons of time as you don’t have to spend time at a big meeting to review items applicable to individuals, but also because you can answer their questions beforehand to help them prepare. It can also help you collect data and create buy-in before people even come to the meeting.
2. Have meeting agenda
Many leaders don’t like creating agenda. But during 15+ years working with teams I’ve learned that meetings accomplish more and move smoother if they have and follow agenda. If you take time to prepare, you will waste less time in unproductive conversations.
3. Share agenda with all attendees
The sooner you can do so, the better. Agenda helps your team prepare their items in advance and have their data and reports ready as opposed to sending you everything after the meeting. Once again, if your team shows up prepared, you will power up meetings and make them more focused and effective.
4. Capture action items
What tasks need to be done? Who is in charge? What’s the deadline? What are the expectations? Having a task list after the meeting increases the chances that these tasks actually get done. Chances are that you’ve heard the following story, but I want to share it anyway because it captures exactly what happens when meetings end up with unclear action list.
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.
5. Encourage participation
Create atmosphere where everyone feels valued and safe to participate. Ask for feedback and insights, listen without judgement. Call on expertise. Notice and praise great ideas and contribution.
6. Create safe space for conflict
Best ideas are created when people are safe to disagree. Diversity of backgrounds, opinions and expertise can actually be beneficial to your organization, project or team, helping you move pass the norms to something new and exciting. Conflict should always be productive, meaning helping team with solutions, not personal, tanking individual or a group. To avoid aimless conversations, I’ve established a rule with my teams – if you raise an issue, you need to offer a solution too. Otherwise we can spend hours talking about what’s not working instead of having a productive discussion.
7. Establish unity
After all is said and decided, it’s important for the team to agree on how to proceed. Only team that works together will make things happen. Create environment where people support each other in spite of differences in opinions. When the meeting is over, team needs to agree to disagree, but still move forward in the same direction. (Click here to learn how to manage team diversity.)
8. Follow through on your words
People do what people see, not what you tell them to do. Set a good example for your team by doing your work with excellence and your team will follow your lead. After all, culture change starts at the top and trickles down layer by layer. Choose to be a good example of what you expect from others.
9. Evaluate progress
At the end of the day, people do what you inspect, not what you expect. To avoid talking about same stuff over and over for the next 2 years, it’s important that you check on progress of action items from previous meetings. How are they being implemented? What’s the progress? What are the bottlenecks? What should be done differently? What resources are missing? What tasks were completed?
10. Reward achievement
Don’t be stingy with praise. Request to be kept in the loop when things go well, progress is made and targets achieved. Recognize winners, celebrate victories, throw a party, take time to give your team time to enjoy the moment.
Click here to discover how improving team communication improved project success.
What other strategies do you use to run effective meetings? Let me know on social media.