While it is easy for me to remember scores of boring staff meetings, when it came to be my turn to run them and I learned to do them right, I loved ‘em.
Mostly because it was far easier to mobilize the troops in one meeting versus 8 to 10 individually held conversations, and it was a golden opportunity to make collaborative decisions versus arbitrary or dictatorial ones. When the expectation was clear that we were going to end the meeting having achieved a collaborative result, staff meetings ended up to be extremely useful and productive. They actually saved time.
The time I devoted to individual one-on-one meetings could then be highly focused and personalized. One-on-one meetings are for talent and strength coaching, for individual project delegation, and especially for the Daily Five Minutes.
In my coaching practice, executives will ask me for ideas on bringing new life to their regularly scheduled meetings, and these brainstorming conversations centered on their current focus and objectives turn out to be pretty energizing for both of us: They get excited about the possibilities of what can actually occur, and I’m able to get more of the clues I need in coaching them toward leadership breakthroughs specific to their business. Fun stuff, and as leaders we can do the same thing; orchestrate the way meetings occur through-out our organizations, by coaching our junior managers how to enliven them.
Meetings are your opportunity to take advantage of having a captive audience, so just ask yourself, is that what do you? When you consider meetings your chance to reach agreements faster and with complete buy-in, you can amaze yourself with how creative and far-reaching you can get in their actual execution.
Business meetings are like all other business processes: They have to result in something if they are to prove useful, and worth the precious time of the people sitting in the room.
How can you ensure that every single meeting you hold is productive, and everyone looks forward to them as much as you do? (Okay, as I did and as you will.) By setting yourself up for success every time. Here is a 5-Point Plan for better meetings:
- Prepare and plan them well. Meetings should be premeditated and result-oriented. As Stephen Covey said so well, “Begin with the end in mind.” Take time to debrief, so you can continually improve as a facilitator.
- Don’t get so ambitious that you can’t walk out of the meeting with some definitive result. This is a 5-point plan, not 5 points on the agenda. I would ask my managers to end each meeting they ran with 3 minutes writing time for discussion result notes on 3 take-aways each participant would translate to action steps.
- Keep meetings as short and as focused as possible. Concentrate the energy, don’t drain it. Increased meeting frequency may be better: Repeated zingers are far better than laborious operations. Use them like huddles in a football game: Huddle- win point. Huddle- go for the next win.
- Get everyone there to weigh in and participate in some way —if you don’t see that happening for certain people, coach them on what is expected. Or don’t invite them; the meeting scope may have changed, but you’ve all been on auto-pilot with them. There must be a reason for people to be there: Observing is not good enough. No bench warmers. Validate your Rules of Engagement.
- If the first four things are not virtually guaranteed, especially the degree of your preparation as facilitator, postpone or cancel the meeting. Don’t sabotage your efforts by allowing any poorly-run meeting to be the bad apple souring the reputation of the barrel.
Number 5. is probably the best advice I can give you. It must become part of your company culture that you only hold productive, result-targeted meetings, or not at all.
If these five points happen with every meeting you hold, there will be an entirely new level of excellence in your group-think and in your team initiatives. More will be brought to the table because the effort is well worth it and contributions are valued. Potentially explosive ideas will no longer die unspoken. Getting invited to meetings will actually be thought of as perks.
Have a meeting. Get something done. Enjoy the experience.
All three phrases do belong together.
I love meetings.
- MWA3P: There’s no escaping better productivity.
- The Real Rules of Engagement.
- The Daily Five Minutes.
- Just how much do useless meetings cost?
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com
Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Don’t Just Add; Replace. Own the 100%