There is no doubt about it; >80% of our clients hold too many meetings that don’t accomplish results. Does your company follow suit? Even if you are following a lean methodology with an odd start time and a standing meeting, the key question is whether anything is accomplished. How would you rate your last meeting?
In our experience, sometimes the ‘lean’ organizations actually accomplish less because people believe they are following “best practices”. Take a step back and map out last week’s meetings.
- What was the objective of each meeting? Do you even know the reason you attended? Often-times, clients go to meetings because they ‘have to’, not because they get something from them.
- Did you accomplish the objective?
- Did the appropriate people attend the meeting? Or was an entire group of people waiting on a key person? Or, worse yet, waiting on a non-key person?
- Did the meeting start on-time and end on-time?
- Did you have an opportunity to share meaningful input?
- Did you feel like it was a productive meeting or a waste of time?
There is a reason the book, “Death by Meeting” is popular. Yet without meetings, would we accomplish goals?
As often as we encourage clients to curtail or shorten meetings, we also encourage other clients to hold meetings. The bottom line is whether the meeting will create value. If you use this simple rule prior to scheduling a meeting, we guarantee you’ll be more successful and productive almost immediately.
Consider a few questions for your next meeting:
- Is there anyone on your attendee list that doesn’t need to attend? Perhaps think about the meeting invitees as people you are paying to be there. Instead of a fixed cost, assume their time is variable. Imagine what they can accomplish not sitting in an unnecessary meeting, and take them off the list!
- Is anyone missing from the attendee list? I cannot tell you how often I end up in a meeting with a client where a key person isn’t in the meeting and so nothing can be accomplished. Why not wait until that person is available, be more forceful to get that person to the meeting or empower a delegate?
- Do you have a clear agenda with outcomes? This is less about a physical piece of paper or an agenda on a meeting request and more about knowing what you will walk away accomplishing in the meeting. Think again before ‘hitting send’ on your meeting request.
- Will you encourage feedback to make the next meeting better? In my global strategy group, we have started to not only talk about how to improve the next meeting but we are giving each other feedback. We might not want to hear constructive feedback but we are more successful with it.
- Is there a mechanism to track actions? Some clients call this a RAIL (rolling action item list) or something like it. Consider not taking notes and instead focusing on action.
Meetings are necessary in driving results; however, do you need as many as you have? And do they have to be as long? I challenge everyone to reduce their meeting time by 50%. Give it a try, and let us know how it goes and what strategies you find the most successful. Also, even more interesting, how many meetings did you cancel?