Ask around the workplace, and most people will admit the word ‘meeting’ doesn’t typically inspire happy feelings. On the contrary, the majority of employees describe meetings as being time-wasters that last too long and takes them away from their to-do list for the day. But meetings still hold a level of importance in the workplace. As a team leader, it’s your job to therefore transform the stigma around meetings and make them as effective as possible for the benefit of your employees. Here are 5 secrets to doing just that:
Set an agenda
An agenda can be as simple as a bullet-point list of items that are to be covered in the meeting or snippets of key information every attendee needs to know. Ideally, you would distribute an agenda to your attendees at least one day before the meeting. This allows them to come to the meeting prepared for a specific discussion and allows you to spend less time needing to expound upon a situation and its relevant details.
One important thing to note is to include an objective on your agenda. In other words, what’s the purpose of the meeting? Is it to discuss an issue, or is to make a decision on an issue (or both)? Again, this helps your attendees adequately prepare.
Stay on task
One of the reasons meetings are notorious for running long is because any subject matter introduced during a discussion tends to become fair-game. As a result, the meeting doesn’t stay on task and doesn’t adhere to the prepared agenda. To avoid this, it’s important to guide the discussion and keep it going in the right direction, with no detours.
You might say something like this: “Thank you for bringing that up, Laura. However, the sales and marketing reports for last quarter go beyond the purpose of this meeting. Let me write that down in the meeting notes, though, so that we can explore that topic at the right time.”
Consider the attendees
Chances are, not everyone in your workplace will need to be in every single meeting you hold. If this is the case, there’s nothing wrong with letting select employees off the hook if the meeting’s topic doesn’t concern them.
In the same vein, if your meeting requires a key person to be present (a manager or executive, for instance), make sure they’ll be in attendance. Otherwise, the meeting holds no real purpose, as a significant decision can’t be made without that person’s presence. Follow up with any key people well in advance of the meeting to ensure they’ll still be able to attend.
Watch the clock
Again, meetings have a bad reputation for running long. One of the causes of never-ending meetings is the simple fact that someone hasn’t been put in charge of managing the time. As a result, meetings become unfocused and no work gets done.
Always start your meetings on time and end them on time as well. Stay organized with your agenda. If certain topics need to be tabled for later discussion, make a note of them and address them in a later, follow-up meeting. Most importantly, have someone serve as time-keeper. When you’re set against the clock, meetings have a way of becoming more laser-focused and effective.
End with clear action items
Perhaps the most important part of a meeting is deciding what happens next. Make sure that your team members know what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be accomplished. Meetings should also close with a record of decisions that have been made. Too many meetings make decisions and they are never recorded so people forget, or they leave with differing ideas about what was decided!
If someone is taking notes during the meeting (which someone should be), make sure they send out a copy of those notes by email to everyone who attended, so that everyone has a copy of the action items and who’s responsible for them, as well as all decisions that were made during the meeting. This will increase productivity and keep everyone accountable to their goals.
Meetings, when used effectively, can be excellent tools in the workplace. They provide a way to dispense important information, make decisions, and get work done. Using the strategies above, you can hold meetings that are purpose-filled and beneficial to all parties involved, ensuring that your workplace stays as productive as possible. Which strategy will you start using this week?