With the advent of home working online meetings have become an essential part of any employee and organisation, the average professional spends 93 (ninety-three) hours in meetings per month.
Even with the immense impact meetings have on the culture and efficiency of a company not many people how to run these efficiently. Some managers complain about the poor culture within their work from home teams.
These people are also the people that can’t run meetings, company culture can only be built during team meetings in such companies, yet no one puts effort in teaching themselves the skill of conducting meetings effectively.
It is also important to understand that cadence is incredibly critical for effective meetings, you don’t want to have a meeting for sharing details that can be transmitted through an email. Meetings are about decisions not updating people, this should be done over email. In this article we are going to run through the four questions you must ask yourself while setting up a meeting.
Who needs to Attend the Meeting?
Obsessing about being in every meeting is a stage every business owner has been through, if you haven’t just know that you are the odd exception. Striving to be in every meeting is a matter of control and perfectionism, in my last article ‘Perfection is The Parachute Holding You Back’ I developed on this further.
It will also induce growth and a sense of responsibility for middle management and employees if they feel like trusted members of the team that can coordinate and arrange meetings without your input. Costs will also reduce as resources are managed more responsibly. There’s nothing employees hate more than useless futile meetings that are set on a whim.
Also consider which team members need to attend, it might be that some should just be kept in the loop through a simple email after the meeting is conducted.
Do you need to Attend the Whole Meeting?
It’s important to know when you are needed and when you are not, often you can simply just introduce a project or perhaps two departments that need to discuss a matter amongst themselves. After introducing everyone it might be a good idea to let them get on with it and leave.
Being able to balance this will really improve the company growth and work - life balance, it will get to a stage where there will be more meetings that hours so setting these principles early is paramount to a balanced healthy life.
Also consider how long other people are needed for a meeting, some people might not need to be there for the second part of the meeting where something else is discussed.
Who is responsible for Pre-work?
What is pre-work? Depending on the type of meeting it is whether it’s a client meeting or a team meeting the pre-work will look different. If the meeting is a presentation the slide deck should be sent to all attendees in advance.
It should be expected for everyone to be to review and absorb the information pre meet to make the meeting purely about decision making rather that just presentation of info and updates. Again, those things can be made over emails without wasting everyone’s time.
If the meetings are of exploratory nature the pre-work should be some standard questions about the topic that can trigger conversations and ideas to pop up. Once again, these questions should be reviewed by all attendees, and everyone should engage and think about those questions beforehand.
All this pre-work needs to be assigned to someone. The first couple of times you give someone this task you should let them know your expectations pointing them to the things specified above.
What is the Outcome of the Meeting?
It is your responsibility to set the desired outcome of every meeting, are you looking at deciding between a couple of options? Do you want to decide what to do with an employee that has been slacking off? Or meet up with clients?
All meetings should be given a measurable outcome and it is your responsibility to decide what it is.
It is also important to explain the proposed outcome to the attendees, just like when assigning a task if there is no measure of success then there’s little chance it will be achieved. You are to drive these goals and make sure they are achieved whether you attend a meeting or not.
Set an appropriate cadence, don’t setup useless meetings that might feel like progress but, in reality, achieve nothing. With this in mind also be aware that meetings might be your only way of creating a desired company culture so work on perfecting the skill of meetings.
Most meetings should be setup to make decisions not update people on the latest news. If an email can achieve the same result as a meeting why force everyone to block a period of their time to attend a meeting, this only creates frustration and a poor company culture.
Don’t obsess to be in every single meeting, this is not necessary and again it can lead to a poor company culture and frustration from team managers and employees because of your lack of trust. You cannot control everything so start being more cognitive about joining a meeting.
Do the work beforehand. Make sure an agenda is setup to keep the meeting timely, efficient, and fruitful, encourage your employees to make sure they check the agenda beforehand and think of point they want to bring up in relation to each subject.
Consider who needs to be in the meeting, don’t add people in just for update purposes. If an email can serve the same purpose just use that instead, you will build a better organisation and company culture if you start doing this.
Make sure you have an outcome set for every meeting and explain it to everyone attending. It is your duty to make sure the result of the meeting is met and communicated to everyone.