Unproductive. Tedious. Unnecessary. Too long.
We’ve all seen the meme: I’ve survived another meeting that should’ve been an e-mail. We laugh and relate because so many staff meetings really could’ve been covered in e-mails. They can be too long, go off-topic, and really waste a valuable hour or two or three … of work.
Then, there’s the irony that many employees face – decisions are made about their departments without their knowledge. When did that meeting take place?
Valuing your employees’ time is a critical piece of employee engagement. So it’s time to re-think the staff meeting with these 5 strategies.
1. Ask why? Make your objective clear. If you’re ready to call a meeting, ask yourself these questions: Is there a problem that needs to be solved? Is there a change in management or strategy? Do you need help to create an action plan? Or is it a micro-managing moment to share information we can all get from a group calendar or memo? If it’s the last one, perhaps it’s time to change your managing style and step back. Maybe the answer to a better meeting is not having one at all.
2. Start on time, end on time: There’s nothing more infuriating than meetings that start twenty minutes late and extend far past the scheduled timeframe. Setting a precedent to start on time, end on time is something your employees will appreciate as it sends a clear message that their time is valuable. And, as suggested by this Forbes article on effective meetings – keep meetings to an hour. After 60 minutes, teams lose interest.
3. Leave Electronics at the door: We are now in the Age of the Tweet. (Pick your social media.) And it feels as if our electronics are extensions of who we are. TALK TO EACH OTHER!! As a leader, it’s your job to put a kibosh on electronics in a meeting. Meetings should serve a very clear purpose: discuss a problem, change in strategies, create an action plan. On a second plane, the electronics-free moments before a meeting creates connection. “Hey. How’s your son doing? I heard he broke his leg.” This kind of conversation creates community. This can’t happen when we’re all distracted by what our neighbors are having for lunch.
4. What’s next? What we say and expect may not be what was understood and executed. Who’s in charge of what? Who is responsible for what? Make this clear. Take notes and have someone send a follow-up message to attendees. Then do a quick verbal follow-up later in the week (no need for the whole team to meet to see that everyone did their job).
5. Spare Everyone the Stump: Stumping, ranting, long-winded meeting hogs kill time. Lots of time. Everything should be focused on the meeting’s objective. Keep input short and on-task. As meeting leader, stop rambles in their tracks. “Thank you for your observations. We need to hear from other members.” Be short. Quick. To the point. Set this precedent. Your team will appreciate it.
Take the dread out of meetings. When you make your meetings matter with clear objectives, a short time-frame, follow-up, and focus, they are incredibly effective. This space to meet must be meaningful. That’s up to you to happen.