One of the biggest complaints of professionals is too many meetings on the calendar and not enough time to get important work done. Often people will disengage from meetings when there are too many, making it nearly impossible to have a productive and effective team meeting.
Audit your meeting schedule and determine if the amount and frequency of meetings are really necessary. Some meetings can be shortened in time or moved to take place every other week. Furthermore, many meetings can be eliminated with frequent communication between team members.
Meetings that don't have clear agenda items are a waste of time. The team leader who schedules the meeting should send a clear agenda to all meeting participants in advance. Team members who are responsible for bringing reports or information to the meeting should be told in advance so everyone is prepared.
Everyone has experienced that feeling of annoyance when someone arrives to a meeting late. You've either been waiting for them before starting or now have to get them up to speed on action items.
When you show up late to a meeting the message you send your team members is that your time is more valuable than theirs. Be courteous to other team members and arrive on time.
An equally bothersome meeting problem is when there are two minutes left in the scheduled meeting time and there are still more action items to cover. Rather than extending the time and keeping the meeting going, team leaders should document the items to cover and schedule a follow-up call for a good meeting time that is convenient for everyone.
The invention of smartphones has severely decreased the average human's attention span. Text messages, emails and an array of notifications beg for our attention.
Leave your cell phone in a different room or turn it face down so you don't get distracted. It's also a good idea to not allow computer use during meeting times so everyone can stay engaged and make the most of the meeting.
Every team member should have a clear understanding of meeting ground rules. Examples of meeting rules could be:
Put your ground rules in writing. You can even list them on the wall in the meeting room. Also, make sure they’re a part of your orientation for new hires.
It's important for meeting leaders to structure meetings in a way that engages each team member. If one or two decision-making people are the only ones talking during a meeting, it's difficult for the rest of the group to pay attention or feel that their contribution matters.
Try making each different team member responsible for an agenda item. If their name is listed next to an item, they will be prepared, participate and pay better attention. You can also assign someone to take minutes or notes so they have to stay alert.
It's common for team meetings to stray from their original objectives. It's particularly common when several team members are talking via phone or video conferencing in a remote work environment. In order to run the most productive meetings, team leaders need to be comfortable steering the group back on track.
Try saying, ‘That’s a great idea. Let’s talk after the meeting is over and put something on the calendar to explore that further’, or ‘I like where you’re going with that. Let’s be sure to dedicate some time to that idea later this week.'
Many teams have weekly meetings that don't have an agenda, but they meet weekly to check in out of habit even if there is nothing in particular to discuss.
Meetings that don't have a clear objective or information to share are a huge productivity killer. If you don't need to have a standing meeting, remove it from the calendar for that week and give your coworkers the time back to focus on getting work done.
Make sure every meeting participant has a key takeaway from the meeting and knows what they are responsible for. Send a follow-up message after the meeting with a brief recap of the meeting.
Include action items that resulted from the meeting and list who is responsible for what, by when. Each team member needs to know what they will be held accountable for.
To make managing those follow-up items easy, try a program like Samewave. It’s a social performance management software that incorporates the ability to assign follow-up items and track progress towards goals and targets.
Many companies use technology and team chat apps to help them have the most effective meetings and share new ideas whether they have remote meetings, in-person meetings or both.
With the right tools and processes, teams can create, communicate about and track progress towards goals and objectives in real-time without the need for long, unproductive meetings.
Use technology that helps your team members collaborate efficiently in real-time, foster a transparent work environment and hold people accountable towards their goals. When do you have meetings, stick to your ground rules and focus on making every interaction productive.