Avoid The Meeting Malaise
Think back to the early days of your career, before you were a leader with a team. Do you remember what it was like to be pulled away from an important project to sit in a meeting for two hours? A meeting that seemingly had no direction or purpose? These were just a higher-ups standing in the front of the room droning on. While your mind was on deadlines and projects that needed to be finished.
We’ve all been there. In fact, most of us have probably been in more than our fair share of ineffective meetings. But just because we’ve all experienced them doesn’t mean we should accept them as a necessary evil. There are ways to make meetings more productive and actionable, so that everyone leaves feeling like their time was well-spent.
While we all know how important it is to have team meetings about KPI’s and upcoming projects, how can you make those meetings engaging and actionable?***
Here are a few simple ways to plan meetings that get results:
Find the Fire
When your team is struggling to hit certain KPI’s, It’s easy to announce “team meeting about numbers and deadlines!” Everyone goes to the conference room and you stand in the front talking about the importance of hitting numbers and the expectations for your team.
But this doesn’t create action, it just creates anxiety. Instead of riling up your team, focus on finding the fire that’s already burning.
Get everyone in the room to share what they think the main issues are and what is causing the struggle. This will help you identify any blind spots and get buy-in from the team on what needs to be accomplished.
There’s nothing wrong with this except that your team already knows what is expected from them. The root problem is that your team is struggling to hit their numbers and they are trying to figure out the reason why.
By identifying the fire, this gives you a chance to put it out by personalizing the meeting agenda and engaging your team. What if the deadlines are too close for the project at hand, or what if you need extra team members?
Once you identify the issues, it’s important to create an agenda that is clear and focused.***
Set Actionable To Do’s
Let’s take the example from above: after identifying the underlying issues that are causing performance problems, now it’s time to set realistic and actionable to do’s. There’s nothing worse than leaving a meeting feeling directionless, like you’ve just had an hour stripped away from an important project for no reason.
When you’re creating your meeting agenda, be sure to include specific To Do items that can be checked off and completed. This will ensure that everyone leaves the meeting with a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and it gives you measurable items to follow up on.
Once you identify the problem areas for your team, set up a list of simple to do’s. That way, when you do pull your team into the conference room, there’s a plan in place to solve the issues. Rather than letting your team try to figure it out themselves.
If you want your team to be more engaged in the meeting, try using a tool like Google Docs or Trello. These tools create a live document that can be edited and updated in real-time. This way, everyone can see what’s being discussed and can contribute their own ideas and thoughts.
Here are three examples of actionable to do’s:
- A future deep-dive of the issue at hand
- Simple steps that can be taken to solve the problem
- Simple assignment of ownership to lessen the load of a large project***
Act on Progress
Tracking and acting on progress is something that will not only engage your team but also help you pinpoint areas that need improvement. Use data that you’ve gathered yourself to customize to your team and their situations
Start by setting a goal for the meeting. What do you hope to achieve? Once you have a goal, create an agenda that will help you achieve it. Make sure the agenda items are actionable and that each item is assigned to someone specific. This will ensure that everyone in the room knows what they need to do in order to help achieve the goal.
During the meeting, make sure to keep track of progress by taking notes or using a whiteboard. This will help you stay focused on the task at hand and ensure that everyone is on the same page. After the meeting, be sure to follow up with each team member to see how they are progressing on their assigned tasks.
Even something as simple as keeping track of progress can be an actionable data point for you to identify different areas of improvement and personalize your meeting approach.
You can do this by either setting up a dedicated progress-tracking system for your team or simply integrating it into your regular team meetings.
Whichever route you choose, make sure that you’re clear about what should be tracked and why it’s important. This way, everyone will be on the same page and working towards the same goal.***
How can you improve your employee experience while ensuring that they are mentally present during meetings? Collect and offer feedback before and after meetings. Say you have a recurring calendar invite in place for morning meetings. It may be helpful to set a poll where three options are offered: How to X; Help with X; Open forum meeting. This gives your team control over what will be discussed and also help you identify areas for improvement.
Offering anonymous surveys post-meeting where they can offer their thoughts and suggestions in a way that feels safe for them is a great way to help you narrow down your meeting topics and structures.
Collecting feedback might sound tedious but it will help you create a team that feels heard and seen, which in turn will create a team that generates the results you want to see.
The Key to Great Meetings:
The key to great meetings isn’t being a great orator, teacher, and boss. The key to great meetings is engagement. Employees don’t want to be pulled away from projects to sit through one-sided meetings with no actionable results. Employees need to feel heard, and that their individual needs are being addressed and acted on.
Create an environment where putting out fires is a team effort and watch your meetings become effective and actionable!