Great Meetings Rarely Just Happen
Not every company is full of snickering employees sharpening their sarcastic remarks when a meeting is called. Office games like buzzword bingo and other meeting-avoidance tricks have their origins in seemingly endless and useless meetings. Believe it or not, there are organizations out there where meetings are gladly anticipated by the staff as opportunities to freely share ideas and test their problem-solving skills. In almost every case, a staff that embraces regular meetings as positive experiences has been progressively trained by management, not by their words, but by their actions as meeting advocates. What's their secret?
Great Meetings Are Made
The best meetings — the ones where a singular objective is met head-on by a group of purposeful and engaged employees — rarely just happen. Fully realized and successful meetings are well-planned events in which the organization's resources are thoughtfully gathered and fully prepared to contain an issue or leverage a great response to an opportunity. This kind of magic does have a recipe for success and it goes far beyond picking a day, date and time for the meeting! It is all about preparation and process. Try these steps for that next important meeting:
- Put your mind to work and start assembling the most powerful group you can. What's the issue? What's at stake? Are you fact-finding or trouble-shooting? Is there a big job out there just begging to be taken off the street or a troublesome quality issue creating bottlenecks in the shop?
- Put together a clear and tight agenda and share it ahead of time. The first item should always be "Purpose of Our Meeting" and the last three agenda items should be "Responsible Team Members," "Deadline for Completion" and "Our Path Forward."
- Create the right meeting environment. Give meetings their best chance for success by holding them at the right time and in the right place. If there's just no way to do it without interruption or interference, go off-site. Do some research and schedule it to be in sync with the office, shop, sales and installation crews. Start them on time and end them on time even if things are going well. Short, frequent meetings are so much better received than monthly midnight marathons.
- Define everyone's roles and responsibilities for the meeting. Who's in charge? Who captures the ideas on paper? Who plays Devil's Advocate? Who keeps everyone on track with the agenda and the clock? No one flies under the radar in a well-designed meeting.
- Energize the goal or objective. If you're meeting to increase sales to a segment, then that session should end with some pumped-up marketing and salespeople who are salivating at the thought of bringing creative concepts to bear on a targeted group. If the meeting was about shutting down a problem, your group should be chomping at the bit to get traction and fix the process. Enthusiasm can be injected into a meeting to heighten the chances of success.
Costs Of Bad Meetings
Running ineffective meetings will put you in the red. How far? First you have to count up all the salary and benefits costs of every meeting participant. This likely includes some of your top earners. Then there are the much harder to calculate opportunity costs for projects that might have been worked on instead of the meeting. These ring up, all the while, in the background.