Meetings… Is there a bigger bane to a leader than a meeting that runs on and on and on? I think not.
Meetings have become a productivity nightmare. You wrangle in multiple team members, hold them hostage in a room for half an hour or longer, and then try to figure out a reason for the meeting.
Normally, you have a good idea going into the meeting what you want to accomplish. You may want to:
- Figure out how to increase productivity on the shop floor
- Decide what steps to take to increase cash flow for the business
- Launch a new product that will revolutionize your industry
- Choose a new team leader for a major product
All of these reasons seem like a great idea for a meeting. You have to get a majority to buy into the next steps for the business. It’s what is right, isn’t it?
But meetings aren’t usually productive. Instead, meetings waste time and drain the energy of those attending the meeting.
Why Meetings Suck
Most leaders go into meetings with the best intentions. You believe you’re getting the team together for a pep talk or to easily share vital business information. Instead, meetings tend to do something else…
Meetings suck because:
- They take time away from productive activities like business building, relationship building, and producing products.
- You can normally communicate the information you discuss in a meeting via an email or phone call.
- People who have no say are invited to the meeting, taking them away from their day to day tasks.
- Time limits are not imposed and the meetings run longer than stated.
Meetings become a time suck more often than not. There’s no limit on how long the meeting will go and those trapped in the meetings fear repercussions if they interrupt the meeting to leave.
Be aware of the pitfalls of meetings. Meetings suck because the organizer of the meeting isn’t sensitive to the value of the attendee’s time.
How To Have More Productive Meetings
Most meetings suck because the organizer of the meeting does a few things wrong. They fail to account for the value of the attendee’s time, there’s no time limit set, and the wrong information is communicated during the meeting.
Knowing what makes a meeting bad, you can begin to make meetings better.
To make a more productive meeting:
- You have to set a time limit (and STICK to it): When you send a meeting request, you probably request a half hour to an hour worth of time. That’s fine. If you stick to the amount of time you requested. When you show up late or run over the time, you show you feel your message is more important than the time of those attending the meeting. Set a time limit and stick to the time limit. This will make the meeting better.
- Know what needs to be communicated: The worst kind of meeting is the one where there’s no clear message. The organizer of the meeting calls everyone together and blathers on. These meetings frustrate those attending because they are put into a situation where their presence isn’t needed. They feel like their time could be better served making phone calls to customers or tending to their team members. Don’t set up a meeting to give a vague, rambling message. Instead, create a clear message, deliver the message, and dismiss the meeting.
- Let people leave: Meetings involve a lot of people. And not all of those people need to be in the meeting for the whole duration. If there are team members who have gotten the information they need, allow those team members to leave. Also, allow team members to come to the meeting later if the information given at the beginning of the meeting doesn’t apply to them. Don’t make people sit through a meeting when they don’t need to be there.
When you make meetings a more enjoyable, tailored experience your team will get more out of them. They will begin to see the value of a good meeting and that you value their time.
Be aware of the pitfalls of meetings, what you can do to make a meeting better, and how you can make your team feel valued through meetings.