This is Part One of Seven keys to better team meetings
One research indicates that time in meetings has more than tripled since 2020. Some people are in meetings almost every day of their life.
In reality, however, the majority of the meetings are actually unnecessary.
A lot of teams schedule meetings without applying their mind to the actual “cost” that comes with having a group of people set aside a part of their day to meet. Meetings remain one of the largest expenses and productivity drains in most organisations.
In many instances millions of dollars have been spent in meetings that are actually not necessary. Asana’s “Anatomy of Work Report” found that, in 2022, knowledge workers spent around 129 hours in meetings that were entirely unnecessary.
This time could have been invested elsewhere in the business. Being intentional about lowering the cost of meetings is actually one of the most cost-effective moves an organisation can make. We will look at how to reduce cost of meetings in future articles.
What is the purpose of having meetings? What is a better way of handling meetings? If used properly, meetings can be a very important management tool you can use for your teams. There are prominent advantages for team meetings as they can help you: Drive alignment, Develop your people, Improve team production.
If not properly used, meetings can easily; Lack focus, Lack structure, and inevitably become a palpable.
Adam Grant shared some interesting thoughts on the purpose of meetings, which are to decide, learn, bond, and do. Before deciding to have a meeting, you need a thorough understanding of what you want to achieve through the meeting otherwise, it’s best not to do it.
You may have heard Elon Musk saying that meetings “are what happens when people aren’t working” or instructing his employees to walk out of a meeting as soon as they aren’t adding value. In 2018, Musk sent an email to Tesla employees that outlined, among other things, three clear meeting rules to follow:
“Please get (rid) of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short”.
“Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.”
“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”
This week, I want to take you through seven (7) keys that can help you have effective team meetings. These are not hard and fast rules, but you can use them with greater flexibility for your organisation.
What is learned helplessness?
Learned helplessness occurs when an individual continuously faces a negative, uncontrollable situation and stops trying to change their circumstances, even when they have the ability to do so. If a person learns that their behaviour makes no difference to their aversive environment, they may stop trying to escape from aversive stimuli even when escape is possible.
- Develop sense of ownership
People invest in what they feel they own. Help your team to have this sense by deliberately developing a practice of rotation. You do not need to run every meeting. Your role as a team leader is not to be in control, you need to give leadership and guidance. Do not always lead, empower your team through delegation. This way, you also equip your team to be confident. Rotating who runs your team meeting each week, or even monthly. There are several benefits to this approach; you keep the meeting fresh. You also help the team build skills.
There are so many ideas that are in your team, and this will be unlocked when you open up your meetings. The team will also have an enhanced sense of ownership, and consequently you can easily drive engagement. Do not be afraid of giving control to your team members. Your role as a leader is to communicate with clarity what you expect of the person leading the meeting and then work behind the scenes to help the person leading the meeting that week prepare.
- Do not convert meeting into educational seminars
Most meetings easily turn into educational seminars, and consequently precious time is lost. A meeting should focus on discussion and making decisions. In the event that you want to teach your team a particular aspect, this can be done well before the meeting.
This way it will save you precious time. All educational material should be reduced into writing, and this can be done via email so that everyone gets to see and read it as well beforehand.
In order for you to have a focused meeting, you can request an email that covers pertinent aspects for the meeting i.e.: topic, context. Why it’s being discussed, and desired outcome of discussion. This will help you declutter your agenda and save you lots of time. Some of the things do not even require you to have a meeting. A simple email can actually suffice.
- Focus on outcomes
The temptation for most people is simply to focus on time, and not outcomes. This is why most people are always on the agenda, looking at the time that is allocated to a particular subject. While, it is good to be time conscious, it is equally important to be outcome conscious. What is that we want to achieve in the meeting.
Are we achieving it?
The difficult with time focus is that it is designed to fill the allotted time. With outcome-focus approach, you can encourage team members to share all relevant information and context prior to the meeting. Further, you schedule enough time to cover the items, but then focus on outcomes. When the outcomes are achieved, the meeting is over. This will even save you time and help you achieve your strategic goals.
- Build on structure of the agenda
Meeting efficiency is also connected to the structure of the agenda. The topics can be varied depending with the type of organisation that you are leading. In certain instances different topics require people to be in different head spaces. Other topics require deep thought and discussion, while others just need quick decisions. It can actually be helpful to batch items.
For example: You can Start with “rapid fire” decisions. These are items that are quickly resolved. The net effect of this approach is to create positive momentum in the meeting. Riding on this momentum, switch to the deeper agenda items.
To be continued next week . . .
Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development. Arthur is the author of “Toys for Adults” a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge. Send your feedback to [email protected] or Visit his website www.arthurmarara.com or contact him on WhatsApp: +263780055152 or call +263772467255.