Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are You Having Bad Meetings?

Too often, you hear employees complain about the amount of meetings they attend.  In some cases, they say there was no need for the meeting.  In others, you hear the meeting could have been accomplished through emails.  One of the worst outcomes of a meeting is the meeting after the meeting.  Those can turn into the real meeting where
final decisions are made.  Then there are those meetings that fire people up and drive immediate action for successful completion of initiatives.  Why aren’t all meetings like the latter?  More importantly, how do you know if you are having valuable or time wasting meetings? 

I have personally attended my clients’ management or operations meetings where the agenda was much to long.  In those meetings, conversations became redundant week after week.  Employees attend because they HAD to.  Then they complain to themselves and one another.   

In meetings with long agendas, management may have a command and control mentality.  The leader of the organization does most of the talking and asks all the questions.  Not many people are empowered by those meetings. 

One of the biggest problems with meetings led by command and control managers is the lack of care or value they put on the time of their people.  In other words, if management does not see time as a valuable resource, they may squander their time as well as those around them. 

In those long meetings, I have seen supervisors excuse themselves because they had to attend to something else.  How can you unify an organization if staff has little interest or value for management’s meetings? 

Instead of holding long superfluous meetings, create an agenda with 2-3 items.  The 2-3 topics should have real time importance.  You can do quick follow ups for issues from the last meeting.  One important topic can be KPIs (key performance indicators).  Those are conversations about what each person is responsible for accomplishing week-to-week and month-to-month.  Within the KPI conversation, people will discuss problems they are facing if they are unable to meet their weekly milestones.  They will also address additional resources when necessary. 

If you want to have a great meeting, start it by asking if there have been any breakthroughs recently.  Allow people to trumpet successes.  Within that, there will be lessons learned that will benefit everyone.  Second, talk about KPIs.  Lastly, talk about the problems or gaps.  Problems can refer to breakdowns, which could include valuable lessons.  Or it could be the result of something slipping through the cracks.  In other cases, it may be the result of poor communication.  The communication can be cleaned up immediately so everyone knows who is doing what and when. 

Included in the conversation about gaps, people can discuss the need for additional resources, like added personnel, time, money, materials, etc.  The discussion about gaps will encourage staff and management to take actions immediately after the meeting.  Or it can establish new routines to create a more efficient workflow. 

Ultimately, if you’re having bad meetings, it does not mean you are a bad manager.  Instead, you can ask your people what they would like to get out of meetings.  You can even ask them to contribute to the agenda.  Or you can assign an individual to run the next meeting.      
While meetings can be a valuable tool to align the team or organization, it is more important they are valuable to attendees.  Include people in the design of the meeting.  And make sure they are doing the majority of the talking.   

What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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