Today's Challenge: More Productive Meetings

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in meetings. This can be quite painful – but it doesn’t have to be. As we’ve been talking more and more about the team concept at Chick-fil-A, it has put the spotlight on one of the major challenges many teams face: How do we make our meetings more productive?

If you haven’t thought about it, this is an ever-present challenge. And not just one to protect your sanity – more productive meetings reduce cost and improve performance. That’s a win-win most leaders would embrace with open arms.
I’ve written on the topic before in two posts entitled 10 Tips for Great Meetings (Part One and Part Two). So, I’ll not repeat myself, but address specific things leaders can do to add to the value of meetings. Three things come quickly to mind…
Be sure meetings are focused on performance management. Regardless of who facilitates the meeting and independent of who prepares the agenda, the leader should remain vigilant regarding the content of the meetings. Meetings are a very costly forum to share updates and status reports. However, performance management, rightly defined can have tremendous impact on the meeting’s impact.
Below are some of the activities that constitute performance management. I’ve always been taught, a great meeting should invest 75% of the agenda on the following activities:

Review the scorecard (key metrics)

Identify problems and opportunities

Solve problems – create action plans

Review previous Action Items

Celebrate accomplishments

Idea for Action: Look back at the last 5 meeting agendas for your team. What percentage of the time was invested in the previous activities?
Always review the agenda BEFORE the meeting. Many team leaders have delegated the creation of the agenda – that’s great. However, until you are 100% convinced the facilitator understands the idea of performance management, my suggestion is to review the agenda before it is distributed. That way, you can make any needed adjustments proactively. The alternative is to coach after the meeting on why it was not as productive as it could have been. I prefer to coach for success rather than coach to failure.
Be sure to review all previous Action Items at every meeting. This may seem obvious; however, it is not the norm. If you’ll develop the habit of doing this, you can create a culture of accountability. This makes not only the meeting more productive, it makes the people and the organization more successful.
Meetings are the perfect forums to encourage, challenge, create, collaborate, train, educate, improve, solve, celebrate, plan, design and communicate with your team. Therefore, effective meetings can be one of a leader’s most powerful instruments to improve performance. Do them well, and you’ll never have to worry about the value of your meetings.[GLS_Shield]
 

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Avi Kaye

8 years ago

Some excellent points here – I would just like to add that you should not only review the meeting agenda ahead of time (at least, until the meeting facilitator understands how to create agendas on their own), but to send it OUT ahead of time, at least a day before the meeting. This gives the rest of the participants the necessary information so that they can come to the meeting prepared.
There’s a good post on how to write an agenda here, by the way:
http://meetingking.com/how-to-create-a-meeting-agenda/

mark

8 years ago

I completely agree. Thanks for sharing this suggestion.

olutunde

6 years ago

Thanks for sharing the link in your reply.it opened new vistas of opportunities about meetings for me .

Mark

6 years ago

I’m glad you found the content helpful! Mark

Mbugua Kihiu

8 years ago

This to me has been an eye opener. May be that’s why l have missed the intended results in some of my meetings. Let me try this great approach. I center mostly on the agenda for discussion as an end in itself.
Thank you so much. Always glad to be following you.

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment. Please let me know how it goes with this approach!

David Pethick

6 years ago

Hi Mark – thanks for another great contribution on meeting effectiveness.
The performance management framework you suggest is a pretty handy standing agenda for any team meeting. The only thing that seems to be missing is “Recommendations for Decision” – those items that are ready for presentation, discussion and finally a decision.
You are absolutely right about the potential value of a meeting for a leader. In no other forum are a leader’s skills in prioritisation, delegation and communication so often tested. The common complaint about meetings is really a complaint about leadership skills.
David Pethick
Co-Founder, http://leading.io

Mark

6 years ago

I agree – bad meetings are an indictment against leadership. Meetings should be one of the easier parts of the leader’s role. Mark

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