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How to Ensure You Effectively Run Meetings

Question: 

Although we are collaborative and encourage employees to work together in teams, we hear complaints that there are too many meetings that take up their time.  Is there anything we can do to help employees understand the importance of coming together?  How can we keep them engaged in brainstorming and problem-solving when they don’t value meeting with their colleagues?

Answer:

“Time” and “Human Resources” top the list of Manager’s most valuable assets; however, it is common for inefficient or excessive meetings to play villain to both.

The U.S. State of Enterprise Work Report from Workfront states that 59% of U.S. workers surveyed said wasteful meetings are the biggest hindrance to productivity.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that U.S. businesses lose $37 Billion in unnecessary meetings every year.

Many employees feel that unproductive meetings are not only wasting their finite amount of time and energy, but also see poorly prepared meetings as a reflection their management does not value them.

Here are some suggestions to more effectively run meetings so that employees feel their participation is valued and the time they dedicate provides a sense of accomplishment.

1) Be prepared before the meeting;

  • Have an agenda or don’t meet until what needs to be met about is determined. A Wall Street Journal article suggests that 80 Percent of meeting time could be eliminated by following a detailed agenda.
  • Be deliberate in the selection of topics for discussion; prioritize and budget time commitments accordingly so the key matters are addressed. So that focus does not go off track, consider assigning someone to the task of timekeeping.  They can help identify distracting conversation items that could be moved to a “parking lot” for future discussion.
  • Send out the agenda prior to meeting so everyone can be mindful of who is needed in attendance relative to the topic.  If there is a decision to be made, assure the individual(s) who have decision making authority are present.

2)  Capture the details of the meeting.  Use a simple meeting template that notes can be handwritten or typed into during the meeting.   It will make it much easier for rapid distribution, and will be particularly important for those who were absent.  Some points to capture are:

  • Record who attended
  • Summarize the results of discussions
  • Record follow-up actions for accountability
  • Retain parking lot items for future meetings.

3)  If a group has a standing meeting, the entire team should agree to a code of conduct to ensure an effectively run meeting:

  • Arrive on time
  • End meeting on time
  • Commit to confidentiality
  • Ban phone or email distractions.

4)  The leader should illicit interactions from more timid participants and likewise tactfully hold the line on those who may be monopolizing conversation.  Inclusive discussion may take more effort but is often of better quality, diverse creativity and inclusive buy-in.

Where participants’ time is valued and the entire team is participating in efficient and effectively run meetings, employees will certainly see action flourishing and will grow to value those gatherings of minds.

Communication often seems like a “no-brainer”. You have something to communicate and you just “do it”. But factor in multiple audiences, a multitude of media and many channels for providing and sharing information and you quickly learn that providing targeted communication in today’s world isn’t so easy. strategic HR inc. has years of experience writing for a diverse audience; we even have a marketing/communications specialist on staff. Visit our Communications page to learn how we can assist you with various communication-based projects.