Holding regular meetings can be a game-changing habit or a gigantic waste of time. I hear a lot of people complain about how they wish they could attend fewer meetings. They fear that most meetings waste time that could be spent working on new business, servicing customers or some other more worthwhile task. That line of thinking may ring true to you if you are having ineffective and purposeless meetings. Truth is, meetings are one of the most important habits of highly successful and profitable teams, but not all meetings are equal.
There is a clearly defined line drawing the difference between pointless and purposeful meetings. Two fantastic books that detail how to hold good meetings are Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish and Good to Great by Jim Collins. Until you get around to reading the books, allow me to summarize what I consider four crucial factors of successful meetings:
1. Clearly defined goals and outcomes. Meetings scheduled around open-ended discussions are generally a huge waste of everyone’s time. Before you even schedule the meeting make sure you define a goal and projected outcome for it. Let all attendees know exactly what is being discussed, and if necessary, what is not being discussed. Have an agenda with the exact meeting topics and goals listed, even if it is a short one.
2. The right people. Office politics frequently result in meeting-killing invitation lists. This issue goes deeper that meeting invites, and often reflects an inefficient culture of micromanaging and mistrust. Remember those clearly defined outcomes we are after? The more unnecessary participants in your meeting, the longer it will take to reach good decisions—if you reach them at all! Successful meetings are made up of a small “task force” of decision makers; key designated attendees based on their specific responsibilities and skills. Your meeting is not a party, so run yours lean and mean and leave the politics out of it.
3. One meeting leader. If it is your meeting, be the leader—the singular leader—who drives the discussion towards its resolution. Take care to keep the conversation on track when it veers off course. Keep the attendees focused on the desired outcome and if a major issue arises that prevents a successful resolution, adjourn the meeting and regroup or assign next steps to deal with the issue.
4. Next steps. Good meetings succeed in making progress on a project, issue or overall business goal, and progress doesn’t happen without follow-up. The meeting leader should make sure all attendees understand what they need to do post-meeting to move forward.
What are your biggest frustrations with meetings? Could they be avoided?
Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please visit his website at activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or email him.