Effective Meetings – Three Simple Rules
Meetings are the bane of every business. We’ve all heard the complaints – This is a waste of time. We can’t seem to stay on track or get anything done. I’d be more productive if I didn’t have to go to all these meetings. That said, meetings (both formal and informal) are the way we communicate our business’ mission and vision, our goals, the obstacles we face and it is the way we celebrate our successes. But how do you conduct an effective meeting?
It really is not that difficult. Follow these simple rules and you will be well on the way to more effective and efficient meetings.
Don’t Boil the Ocean:
All too often managers try to cram too much into a meeting. They attempt to cover a wide array of topics. The result, the meeting rambles for hours and no one can tell you what was discussed or decided. People leave the meeting frustrated and overwhelmed.
Segment your meetings so your communications are focused and clear. For example, you may hold an annual planning meeting to cover your one to three key objectives, lay out budgets and challenges, and assign roles in order execute the plan. Then you might hold a quarterly meeting to determine your progress. And finally, weekly meetings with management and staff to keep everyone on track and raise/resolve issues as they threaten the plan.
Nothing derails the effectiveness of a meeting more than inconsistency. If you have a weekly management meeting at 9AM every Wednesday, then keep it and be on time no matter what. Nothing says I do not care more than cancelling or being late to your own meeting.
Put out an annual schedule of meetings. Keep a consistent agenda. Keep them short and stay on time. If you respect your team’s time, they will deliver for you.
There is an old Abbot and Costello routine, titled – Who’s on First? I am sure you’ve heard it before. The final key to an effective meeting is deciding who is doing what, and when will it be done. This is a MUST for any meeting. A word of caution here. Many companies use a “stop light” system to track accountability. Is the task green (on track), yellow (in danger), of red (off track). If you use a three tier system like this… SCRAP IT!
Tasks/Projects are either on time, on budget, and going as planned… or they are not! PERIOD. Running a business is not a game of horseshoes. Nearly made it - is not good enough. If your plan is on track, great. If not, glossing it over with an almost will not get you to a successful solution or your goals. If you are off track… say it and figure out why. Make the appropriate changes and move ahead.
In short, plan your meetings… be consistent… and hold everyone (including yourself) accountable.