Imagine this - you come into work on Monday morning feeling well rested, motivated and ready to get stuck into your to-do list. You prepare your cup of coffee/ tea, have a quick catch up with your colleagues and open your calendar only to see that your week is packed with meetings.
What is your initial reaction? ‘’Oh, wow this is great, look forward to all these meetings!’’ Or is it more like: ‘’Oh no, what is the purpose of these and when will I get the actual ‘work’ done. ‘’
Well, for most of us it would be the second option and (while we do not promise that you will fall in love with having meetings) this blog contains some useful tools that could help you to plan and run a successful and productive meeting. However, if you are lucky enough to be a part of the first group, you might still find this blog useful.
The process of any meeting consist of three crucial elements: Plan – Conduct – Follow up
One thing that is important for planning is identifying WHY are you having this meeting? What is the purpose of this and what outcome do you want? Think about who also needs to be there and what is their role and purpose during the meeting. Do not invite Jim from the marketing department to a finance meeting, only because you think he might be offended if he will not be there.
Meetings should be used for discussion – if you have people together in a room make sure you are not just passing information that they could simply have read in a time that suits them.
Another great thing I can suggest is preparing an agenda for the meeting and send it to your team beforehand, this can be really helpful in setting the tone of the meeting and making sure that you and your employees are on the same page. I would also encourage you to advise to those members of staff who do not need to be a part of the whole meeting to attend only the part they can add any value to. It is not only pointless but also distracting to the rest of the participants to have someone who is physically in the room but quite obviously mentally somewhere else.
Open the meeting by reconfirming again what is the agenda for the meeting, how much time will be dedicated to this and what outcomes you expect, along with what you want from all participants (e.g. their ideas, challenges – whatever is relevant to achieving the outcome)
Encourage the interaction amongst your employees, create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to be heard and express their thoughts. You will have a range of different personalities in the room, do not let the ‘loud’ ones to overshadow the ‘quiet’ ones. [example or third party story].
As you move to tackling the issue, allow the ideas to be generated in the room, encourage brainstorming and only then narrow down to the right ideas. You can do so by questioning the reasons of your employees for picking one particular idea as the solution. However, be very careful about this – do not be a critical leader who is asking ‘WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THIS IS RIGHT?’’ be a nurturing leader/ manager who is curious about the reasons for choosing this idea. For example, you could say: ‘’This is an interesting idea, could you talk me through examples from your previous experience of when this was successful?’’
Trust me, by doing so you will let your team come to their own conclusion of what the best solution is and they will own it. Why? Well, by telling your employees what is the right answer you encourage the ‘culture of helplessness’ and promote the idea that manager ALWAYS has the right answer and if there are any problems you just need to go and see your boss and he/ she’ll tell you what to do. However, if you let your staff come to the decision of what the best solution is you will nurture their skills and allow them to grow, develop and want to invest more in your organisation.
From my previous experience, I understand the urge all the busy managers have to give the right answers. However, you must also remember that you are investing in having a lot more free time in future by spending some on your staff now.
Here’s to your next great meeting!