“Meetings are a great trap. Soon you find yourself trying to get agreement and then the people who disagree come to think they have a right to be persuaded. However, meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”
- John Kenneth Galbraith
Meetings can be “the best of times, the worst of times” (my apologies to Mr. Dickens). Face it; most meetings are a waste of time and money. But a well-run meeting can identify problems, focus your team on quality and improve the overall performance of your team. Well run meetings have certain key characteristics and components. I suggest that you immediately implement a new set of rules and bylaws for future meetings that you and your Teamers schedule and attend and review and include the following as appropriate:
- Never go to or schedule a meeting without an agenda. The meeting agenda should include at least the following information and be available to meeting attendees well prior to the meeting.
- What topics to discuss
- Who will discuss each topic
- Why discuss the item, what’s the proposal or action needed?
- Time estimates
- Have some time set aside for “general junk” and a Rumor Round-Up session.
- Have a facilitator to keep the meeting on schedule. I suggest that you pick someone as the facilitator that’s not involved with any of the meeting agenda topics and is an independent thinker.
- If you have a meeting with Co-Workers from other departments or organizations, be sure to start with introductions so that everyone knows everyone.
- Start the meeting with an “ice breaker” agenda item to get the conversation flowing. “How each person got assigned to this project?” can be good one.
- Have a scribe to keep notes of the meeting and action items. Actually use a recording device if needed.
- Appoint a time keeper. Again, to help stay within the agenda and time estimates for each topic.
- Always keep meetings to one hour or less. Meetings are expensive. I once worked with a guy who had meetings without chairs. His quote was “if we don’t all sit down and get comfortable we can get this done quicker! I’ve got work to do!” I suggest you try it at least once as a “wake up” for your Teamers.
- If you need more time schedule another meeting. If everyone wants to continue to complete a topic go another 15 minutes or so, but try to keep the time limited.
- The facilitator should stop idea judgment or judgment statements of any kind.
- The facilitator should stop letting multiple people talk at once. Let each person share their ideas without interruption.
- Stop endless talking and arguing. Play the “bad cop” if you have to.
- Encourage brain storming and idea hitchhiking, that is “what if we did this or tried that, what would happen?”
- Encourage everyone to stay on schedule and stick to topics and solutions.
- No cell phones unless it is a REAL emergency!
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
- Leonardo da Vinci