Thursday, February 28, 2013

How To Run More Productive Meetings

We all know that meetings are expensive. Time is precious, and having many people in a room is costly by any measurement. The cost of an interrupted work flow is even worse, especially for a small business. Adequately utilising valuable employee time is one of a leader’s key responsibilities.

You might be especially productive early in the morning, from the moment you start working. I might require an hour or so of build-up time before I’m ready to get cranking. But when a meeting starts, our preferences and differences are cast aside. Meetings strip us of the core tenet of the creative process: autonomy.

Creating useful meetings

We can’t rid the world of meetings. After all, the benefits of meeting can outweigh the costs. But we can meet more wisely. Here are a handful of the tips I have observed in productive teams:

1. Beware of ‘Posting Meetings’

If you leave a meeting without action steps, then you should question the value of the meeting (especially if it is recurring). A meeting to ‘share updates’ should actually be a voice-mail or an email.

2. Abolish Monday Meetings

Gathering people for no other reason than ‘it’s Monday!’ makes little-to-no sense, especially when trying to filter through the bloated post-weekend inbox. Automatic meetings end up becoming ‘posting’ meetings.

3. Finish With a Review of Actions Captured

At the end of every meeting, go around and review the action steps each person has captured. The exercise takes less than 30 seconds per person, and it almost always reveals a few action steps that were missed. The exercise also breeds a sense of accountability. If you state your action steps in front of your colleagues, then you are likely to follow through.

4. Make All Meetings ‘Standing Meetings’