Meeting Madness — A Corporate Curse?
Are you one of those business executives who has to attend just too many meetings in a given workday physically or virtually? Be honest to yourself. Are these meetings worth attending? Can you still take care of rest of your deliverables even after attending these endless and exhaustive meetings? Is it something relating to your organisational culture where meeting is convened for anything or everything? You love them? You love them not?
It may sound ‘normal’ in your company but frankly it is of no use to bounce from one meeting to another with very little or no productive results. Team meetings, Weekly meetings, Sit-down meetings, Stand-up meetings. Monday morning meetings, Morning Briefings. Well, you definitely not love them. Right? It’s Monday. You are already pissed with the thought that it is Monday. Having the blues? The start of the week brings in a lot of pressure and what happens you spend first unproductive hour in a meeting that sucked your blood and sweat and probably drained you for rest of the day.
Too many meetings, lack of preparation, no follow-up and employees zoning out because they’ve lost interest are among the typical problems. Badly managed meetings include the temperament and behaviour of the meeting chair that can also have a negative effect on employee morale and teamwork. If people routinely arrive late for your meetings, stare at their smartphones and aren’t taking notes, your company has some improvements to make.
Poorly managed meetings have been called the ‘black holes’ of the work day and can weaken your company’s productivity. According to a worldwide study conducted by Microsoft Corp., business people spend nearly six hours a week in meetings and nearly 70% of the participants reported that their meetings were unproductive.
Even in today’s corporate world, most new managers probably need to learn how to run an effective meeting i.e.
- Stop throwing weight at the very outset of the meeting. your team get disengaged.
- Have a solid objective in mind, and a commitment of helping people grow & learn.
- Try to avoid some of the meeting conducts to keep annoyance away from your team.
Here are 5 suggestions that can help you run productive and engaging meetings:
1. Establish connection
Remember that meeting’s sole purpose should be to pick up brains, bring forward new ideas and make decisions in light of the discussions. Reflect on what exactly happens during your meetings? Is the agenda shared in advance or people just walk in clueless? Observe their body language while they enter the meeting room. If you as the meeting chair arrive last and start raising your voice as meeting progresses, then you should expect the team tilts their heads down having no connection with what is being talked about. Meetings are meant to be for face-to-face discussions. Look at your people in their eyes and talk. Allow everyone to come prepared and discuss issues during meetings. This will make a connection with everyone in the room and will push their minds for brainstorming. This will also save time and will keep everyone on the same page.
2. Link meeting to broader organisational goals
Certain frequent meetings in some corporate sectors are simply convened to disseminate information, i.e. reading out sales numbers, revenue figures, customer churn, employee turnover etc. A million-dollar question would be that in presence of the newer technology tools i.e. real time applications, or a simple email having an excel attachment, why have such meetings in the first place? Instead, your people should be doing better things instead of spending hours in the meetings for nothing.
Effective team meetings are not meant just for discussing reports and deadlines. Many times, meetings are often disconnected from the organisational broader goals.
3. Lighten the mood
Add some excitement to your meetings by keeping the mood light. Crack a decent joke or two, if needed. Don’t forget the purpose of the meetings. We invite people detaching them out of routine work must bear results. This can only happen when they are valued, respected, not yelled and shouted at. Only then, they will look forward to meetings in future. Pick their brains. You shouldn’t be surprised to receive the best ideas from the people who sometimes shy away to speak up in gatherings. Encourage them to participate. Talk to them personally during the coffee breaks and see the difference.
4. Engage your teams
How about this equation? Meetings + Engagement = Productivity. Invite your participants to chair the meetings once a week or so. Encourage them to chip in and talk and share their views. One of the reasons that team members are not participating in the meetings is that they are not aware of the purpose of the meeting. The purpose of your meeting should be relevant and known to all the team members. This will encourage them to participate in the discussions during a meeting and be involved in the decision-making. Provide them with an opportunity to lead the discussions and put forward their points. If the team is encouraged to participate, they will be genuinely excited about the meetings and will see it in a positive way contributing to the bigger picture.
5. Derive actionable tasks
Make sure that all key actionable tasks are recorded and assigned to people responsible. It would be better to link these to the broader company goals. Do a simple slide and flash it before conclusion of the meeting i.e. List down the actionable tasks, brief description of the task, Link with the company’s broader goal, task assigned to and the first deadline. This way you can track the progress and outcome of the meeting and everyone knows what and when to deliver?
This method is easy and simple and will help your second and third tier leadership teams to learn and implement the same down the line. As Robert Noyce once said: “Knowledge shared is power multiplied.”
To sum it up, remember that efficient business meetings directly impact your bottom line in a couple of different ways. When they are effective and efficient, they help your employees accomplish the company’s goals, improve your bottom-line, and scale your business.
In the interest of your employees’ time, keep meetings brief and only involve the employees whose attendance is required. Stick to a plan and avoid letting the discussion stray off your stated goal.
Use corporate and organisational stories to convey your message to team members and change your meeting scenery to keep your employees from being too comfortable or too habitual. When your meetings are efficient and effective, they’ll be more productive and less costly. Your employees will reap the benefits and they’ll be happy to attend future meetings.
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Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.