If you feel as though your organization’s meetings aren’t productive, you are not alone. The true value of meetings is often questioned, primarily because many wonder whether these group discussions actually generate positive impact. The truth is that meetings can be critically important tools that foster team unity and make a measurable impact on an organization’s bottom line. The trick is to figure out exactly which matters should be discussed and how meetings should be conducted.
Set the Agenda Ahead of Time
A surprising number of managers attempt to ad-lib meetings. Spend some time thinking about what should be discussed in the meeting. Consider asking your co-workers what they would like to discuss as well then generate an appropriate agenda. Be sure to share this information with your colleagues before the meeting actually commences. Ideally, the meeting topic(s) will be communicated a full day ahead of time. An agenda will give your group a sense of direction and keeps the meeting’s dialogue on-track at all times.
It is not Necessary for the Entire Office to Attend the Meeting
Some meetings have so many attendees that workers are forced to lean against the wall as there aren’t enough open chairs. Only invite the appropriate people to the meeting. Oftentimes, it is not necessary to invite receptionists, data entry clerks and other entry level employees to meetings. Spend some time thinking about which people will benefit the most from the meeting and which ones will provide valuable insight.
Every Meeting Should Provide Clear Guidance
Too many organizations hold lengthy meetings without coming to an agreement as to how matters should proceed. This is a critical mistake as it leaves employees hanging. Meetings that fail to produce a resolution will only result in additional meetings. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure you have an “to-do” list before beginning each meeting and be mindful to the agenda at hand.
If the same groups of people tend to sit near one another in the meeting room, you might have a clique problem. Though it might seem impossible to prevent the formation of cliques, these small social circles will prove to be quite detrimental to your organization’s meetings.
The purpose of a meeting is for all attendees to share information and work with one another to solve important problems. This requires extensive collaboration among a diverse array of employees. Try to break up those groups of people who have found a comfort zone in their small, isolated cliques. Encourage every meeting attendee to interact with his co-workers regardless of whether they have forged deep alliances in the past. Forcing these employees to interact with those outside of their clique will undoubtedly improve office-wide communication.
Meeting Length Matters
Some meetings stretch on for several hours while others take less than ten minutes. If you have established the meeting’s agenda a full day ahead of time and invited only the appropriate parties, most of your meetings should take half an hour or less.
Focus on the Meeting’s Results Rather Than the Process
Plenty of office managers will over-focus on the nuances of the meeting rather than the meeting’s outcome. Do not lose sight of the bigger picture. The purpose of scheduling a meeting is to share information, ask questions and develop an agreed upon outcome that will help employees as well as the organization as a whole. Once the key matters have been addressed, do not be afraid to end the meeting and return to work.