In the last blog post I suggested it was possible to kill the deadly boring meeting and a great practice to begin the process.
This week let’s look at ways to lead successful meetings that are productive and meaningful for everyone involved and how to translate it into improved overall team performance.
As a meeting leader, the first question is: What is the purpose of the meeting are you leading?
Quarterly/Bi-annual Common Vision Check Ins
Skillful Means suggests starting by developing and committing to a common interest or shared vision within the team for a specified period of time. This is fundamental to a high performing team. It can be very helpful to have a skilled facilitator assist in developing and articulating this shared vision with specific goals. This meeting may require a full day. It is a time to evaluate the direction your team or company is headed.
- Are you on the same page?
- Are you taking advantage of the most strategic opportunities to fulfill your overall mission or business objectives?
- Where do individual’s needs and desires align within the team/company’s vision and goals?
Once clearly identified and aligned, the team gains tremendous power and momentum in bringing the vision into reality. The results of these meetings inform the discussion and purpose of subsequent meetings.
Without a shared vision and common committed interest, team members will likely be pulling in different directions. Time is wasted on many levels and can lead to an undercurrent of chaos. Regular meetings are not productive and people ‘tune out’, so they can go do ‘real work’ in their own little silo.
Once a unified vision is created, What are the overall communication needs of your team required to ensure high performance and implementation of the vision?
It is important to develop a structure that supports these needs on an ongoing basis. The result will be higher team performance and more consistently positive business results.
Monthly Tuning Meetings
As a team, are you meeting specific goals and objectives that move you closer to the shared vision? Are your strategies to achieve the shared vision working? Are they still relevant and appropriate given current conditions? If not, how can they be fine-tuned and made better? Ideally this meeting is 90 minutes or less.
Weekly Tactical Meetings
Patrick Lencioni expounds on this meeting in his book Death by Meeting. This is an opportunity for team members to share their three most important goals for the week. Then, are there metrics it would be helpful to track weekly to know if you are moving toward your vision? These could be around a sales or fund-raising pipeline, project progress or performance ratios, event planning, product launches, cash flow, or metrics from marketing activities/website traffic. It will be different for different organizations. Once you are aware of the metrics and what people are focusing on for the week, ask –
What can we do as team to make this as productive a week as possible?
What obstacles need to be overcome to move toward our common objectives?
How can we do it?
Ideally, this meeting is no longer than 60 minutes.
In the last post I described a way to spend 15 (super productive!) minutes every day that isn’t really a meeting – but a practice to help bring awareness to the flow of each person’s day and to connect your team. It gives team members a daily touchpost and encourages them to be deliberate in using their time well.
Once your company’s communication needs are clear and you have a structured a plan to address these needs as suggested above, here are a few more things to keep in mind for successful meetings. These are from Arnaud Maitland’s book MasterWork. He calls them “Musts for Meetings.”
- Be clear on the purpose of the meeting and be prepared. Be sure everyone knows what to expect and how to prepare themselves. An agenda can be very helpful. Once a meeting structure is clear (e.g. daily and weekly meetings), an agenda may not be needed.
- Clearly determine the length of the meeting in advance.
- Start on time no matter what.
- Be present! This means getting agreement from participants to no reading, texting, checking emails during the meeting. If you have a fully engaged meeting, there is no time for this!
- Schedule breaks appropriately – especially for longer meetings. No random breaks.
- No walking out.
- Leave personal and emotional issues at the door.
- End on time! Commit to this. You will see participation, energy, and focus skyrocket.
MOST IMPORTANT – In EVERY meeting beyond the daily touch points:
- Find Solutions.
- Make Improvements.
- Make Decisions.
Evaluate carefully. If these three things are not happening in each meeting, you are wasting people’s time and energy, their most precious resources. You are creating unnecessary suffering in your organization, potentially on a grand scale. The purpose of a meeting is solely to create positive movement. Movement is not talking. Movement is doing. You are talking only so you can do better.
Well-run meetings conducted within the container of a shared common vision propel team productivity and efficiency. They support and encourage individuals to apply their energy to working in a healthy and satisfying way. Poorly run meetings create cynicism, lethargy, and confusion and waste time and money.
As leaders, we have a choice!
Below, share one thing you can do now to make your meetings better, whether large or small.
Want some help? Click here to set up a complimentary 30-minute assessment of how you can improve meetings and skyrocket team performance in your organization.