A few of my favorite demotivators from Despair, Inc. are the ones describing the pointlessness of meetings, committees and teamwork:
Meetings. None of us is as dumb as all of us.
Teamwork. A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.
Committees. Just like teamwork. Only without the work.
All sarcasm aside, the laughter in those statements belies an underlying truth about meetings. You’ve probably been a part of meetings that obscured the solution and created more, not less, confusion. If your meetings resemble those statements, then you’re not alone.
I have a confession to make. I’ve been a bad meeting leader. Whether it was meeting too long or too frequently, ending without a next step or attempting to do too much, a share of my meetings have been ineffective. But while I’ve made every mistake in the list below, I’m learning to make the right adjustments to become a good meeting leader.
Consider a few lessons that I’m learning:
- Make it fun. Praying for personal needs, recognizing important life moments and celebrating team wins are all part of healthy staff culture. Make staff meetings as much about motivating and encouraging people as about the meeting’s agenda.
- Be prepared. Set a clear agenda and focus the meeting. It can be frustrating to attempt to do too much in a meeting. Limit the scope of the discussion and save “rabbit holes” for sidebars or e-mail.
- Be efficient. Everyone should know what’s expected of them before they set foot in the meeting. Communicate a meeting’s purpose in advance so the team can be prepared. And don’t be afraid to cancel a scheduled meeting when it isn’t needed or when the team just needs to take a break.
- Keep it moving. Meetings should be brief, lasting only as long as needed to accomplish their purpose. Manage the length of meetings and consider ways to maintain forward momentum. Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor, advises: “If you’re going to meet in person, determine how much time you need and then challenge yourself to slice it by 50%.”
- Detail the action plan. Making assignments to team members (and the team leader) reduces the length of meetings and provides accountability for next steps. Identify items and ideas that require follow up and clarify who’s responsible for making it happen.
- Encourage your team. Did everyone leave with a sense of accomplishment? You may not have all the answers you were looking for, but you should have a takeaway. Summarize what was accomplished so everyone leaves the meeting encouraged, motivated and satisfied.
So what’s the Big Idea?
Make the right adjustments to become a good meeting leader. Make staff meetings as much about motivating and encouraging people as about the meeting’s agenda. Be prepared and efficient, maintaining forward momentum. Encourage the team with a summary of what your meeting accomplished.
- Meeting Hero (e-book) by Tom LaForce
- Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni
- Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne
- “9 Tactics For Effective Staff Meetings” by Jay Mitchell and Sarah Newsome
- “Remedying Bad Meetings” by Brian Dodridge
- “Say No to Meetings” by Andrea Murad
“Demotivators,” Accessed May 4, 2015, http://www.despair.com/demotivators.html.
“Say No to Meetings” by Andrea Murad, Fox Business (April 29, 2015), http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2015/04/29/say-no-to-meetings/.
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