3 tips to get what you need out of your next team meeting
One of the areas we work in is Organizational Design. There are many components to Organizational Design and sometimes the things that get the least amount of attention are the ones that hold organizations back the most. For example, are you responsible for the performance of a work team?
Do you hold regular team meetings?
Do you feel like you’re leading the same meeting week after week with no tangible results to show for all the time spent?
It doesn’t have to be this way. Meetings shouldn’t be a waste of time, and they shouldn’t be unproductive. After all, there’s a reason you’re meeting, right?
By following three simple principles, you can make meetings an effective, productive, and powerful team-building tool.
Sure, it sounds simple, but how many of us have found ourselves in one of those meetings that seems to meander through a variety of subjects, some not even related to the project at hand?
What’s the solution?
1. Prepare an agenda that helps you stay focused.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A good agenda lists the items you want to discuss, who will speak to them, and the approximate time allocated for each. Above all, include a purpose statement that clearly articulates why you’re holding the meeting, and a goal statement that articulates the result you want the meeting to produce. In other words, tell participants what you want to discuss and how the information will be used. They’ll show up at the meeting with an understanding of how their contributions will make a difference to your organization.
2. Ensure participants provide you with the information you need.
If you need them to bring data, discussion items, or presentation materials to the meeting, let them know in advance. Share any materials ahead of time when you circulate the agenda.
3. Separate agenda items into three categories:
- Information items
- Discussion items
- Decision items
Information items can be shared electronically in advance. Discussion and decision items can be attached with the agenda when you distribute it in advance, or they may be items that have been discussed at previous meetings. These headings alert people that they need to come ready to discuss and decide.
4. Assign a specific length of time for each agenda item (e.g., 15 or 30 minutes).
Set times give participants a sense of how much weight each item has and therefore how much time they may need to prepare.
5. Assign key roles – more on this later!
6. Stop and think.
If you have problems producing a purpose or goal statement, maybe you don’t actually need to have a meeting. Perhaps there’s another tool that would be just as effective. (Check back with us over the next few weeks as we discuss alternatives to meetings.)
- You’ve called the meeting so you’re the Chair. The Chair’s role is to keep everyone focused on the goal and to move participants toward decision and action.
- The Facilitator ensures that no one dominates the discussion and that all voices are heard.
- The Time Keeper tracks the time allocated to each agenda item against actual discussion and will sound a warning (e.g., two or five minutes) before time runs out for each item. If discussion hasn’t wrapped up, the group may decide to make a hard stop on that item or reallocate time from another discussion item.
- The Note Taker records decisions and important elements of the discussion (e.g., rationale behind specific decisions, if required) and shares the notes within a day of the meeting. The Note Taker also records who attended and who was absent, as well as who was assigned which roles.
There are two key benefits to assigning roles:
- Roles are rotated, and over time everyone will get the chance to play either Facilitator, Time Keeper, or Note Taker. In the process they’ll improve their skills.
- It keeps everyone on their toes because they never know when they’ll be assigned a role.
Every meeting should end with a commitment to action.
Did you achieve the goal you set out to achieve?
Confirm the actions that have been agreed to, assign responsibility and a timeline, and make sure the Note Taker records them.
If you didn’t achieve the goal, determine why not.
- Did you run out of time? Perhaps additional time should have been allocated.
- Was there a lack of agreement? Perhaps you had the wrong goal. Take time to debrief and identify what’s preventing you from moving forward.
Above all, don’t just reschedule the same meeting for next week – nothing will change!
So if you feel like you’re starring in the movie Groundhog Day, living through the same meeting over and over, remember these three principles:
Make your time count!
Need assistance making your meetings more effective? Siena Consulting helps organizations get the most out of their meeting time. In addition to expert facilitation, we provide strategic planning that can help you define your goals. You’ll go into every meeting with a clearly articulated purpose statement and goal statement. Your team will understand your expectations of them and show up ready to get things done. Get in touch to discuss what Siena can do.