Here’s a “motivational” poster that makes me laugh each time it comes across my feed.
That’s because we all know that there is a grain of truth to it.
Some meetings truly are a waste of time and creative energy (ok, lots of meetings). And we’ve probably all attended meetings that felt like they accomplished nothing but effectively pooling group ignorance.
But your meetings don’t have to be so unproductive! Here’s a few suggestions – from my team to yours – to help you talk about the right stuff, to yield the right stuff at your next meeting:
1. Determine your objectives before the meeting starts!
Having clearly identified goals for your meeting increases the probability of achieving your intended outcomes. You don’t need 100% clarity on which path to take to meet your goals, but you do need to have your destination in sight.
For example, what questions need to be answered during this session? Do you expect actionable items to be identified? What action items must be assigned to move objectives down the field?
2. State your objectives right out of the gate.
Good leaders are good communicators.
As the team leader, you’re responsible for ensuring everyone is on the same page in order to achieve your meeting goals. That means directing the conversation, jumpstarting dialogue and even tabling certain discussions for follow-up meetings.
3. Set a time limit and hold yourself to it.
This one is tough but it can really help with team effectiveness! By disciplining yourself to set and keep time limits, you are helping team members come to meetings better prepared and ready to work.
Once you reach your time limit, state that your time is up and either shut down the meeting or poll team members for the best time to reconvene. I’m not saying be inflexible; I’m saying make it a habit to be realistic about everyone’s schedule.
4. Designate some “what-if” time.
I find it helpful to invite the team to think and speak freely, even if their ideas seem “off-beat.”
Not only is this important for cultivating an environment where innovation is respected and affirmed, but “what-if” time can help you reap the benefits of higher level thinking. When your team is brainstorming new ways to meet team goals, you are pushing them toward good analytical, application and creative skills.
Plus, the “what-if’s” often become your most viable “how-to’s.”
5. Be ready to call a “time-out”.
Stay ahead of your team by recognizing where you are in the conversation. Be ready to call a “time-out” on an idea if the discussion seems to be moving away from your meeting goals. When the team gets distracted, you can also re-summarize the day’s objectives or nudge the team forward to the next point.
Team meetings don’t have to be a snooze…or make for a really bad “motivational” poster.
If you talk about the right stuff in your meetings, it will yield the right results.