Effective Meetings

Effective Meetings Make a Difference

Working yesterday with a management group, to build them as a team, reminded me of how vital effective meetings are to teamwork. The impact of meetings is never neutral, they are either building relationships and morale or eroding them.

Meetings erode relationships when members don’t listen, don’t respect the opinions of others, don’t take responsibility for their own failings, don’t offer to help a member in need, resist other members commenting on their area of the organization, speak in generalities or come to the table with apathy about their work. There are others, but these are major.

Meetings build cooperation and morale when the converse of all the factors mentioned above exist. What also helps is a sense of humor, willingness to share what is going on personally in your life that impacts how you “show up” to the team and, most importantly, whether team members honor their agreements.

“What agreements?”, you say. All of them, even the small ones. Be on time. Follow the rules you establish for the conduct of meetings (you should have these). Complete your tasks on time. Keeping agreements builds trust, and trust builds teams. It’s that simple.

I marvel at how few groups use the mechanics of good meeting management, and how few members of groups complain about it. They just continue to leave meeting after meeting feeling as if they wasted their time.

Key meeting mechanics:

  • Allow time for team members to simply share what’s on their minds, be it about the organization or about them personally. I call this team hygiene. Everyone knows when someone is off kilter, and unless they know why, they waste a good deal of time wondering about it. (We have a great tool for this. Drop us an e-mail, and we will send you a copy.)
  • Make the meeting a priority. No absences allowed unless approved by the CEO. These meetings are vital if run properly, and virtually nothing should take precedence.
  • Share only what is vital for others on the team to know about. A sample agenda for a board meeting can be found here.
  • Run the meeting briskly. If you get bogged, tell members to handle the issue outside the meeting. For simple meeting mechanics using Robert’s Rules of Order, click here.
  • Review progress on your strategic plan regularly. (I recommend every two weeks).
  • Review key metrics on the business monthly. If you don’t have data to review regularly, it is hard to have effective meetings. You are managing by anecdote vs. data, which is dangerous.
  • Capture all “To Do’s”, with a team member assigned responsibility and a due date. Review status of outstanding To Do’s at each meeting. Challenge team members who don’t meet their commitments. This should be done by all members, not just the CEO.
  • End the meeting with each person commenting on how the meeting could have gone better, until you get to a point that, for several meetings, members have no ideas for improvement. That means you have stabilized as a high performing team.

Did I miss any key points for meetings that you wouldn’t be without? Drop me an e-mail. I would enjoy reading them and passing them on to others.

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