When you hear the words “We are having a meeting” do you cringe at the thought of sitting in the room or virtual platform for that period of time. Do you try to think of ways to get out of it? While it may sound bad to answer “YES” to those questions it is all too true in the world of meetings.
These essential collaborations have gotten a pretty bad reputation of being time wasters and an obligatory time filler. In the business world today a meeting is very often the only occasion where the team or group actually exists and works as a group, and the only time when the supervisor, manager, or sometimes executive is actually perceived as the leader of the team, rather than as the official to whom individuals report. The daily or weekly meeting is often the only time when the leader is ever perceived to be guiding a team rather than doing a job. If things are not getting accomplished in the meetings you attend, then they are not being ran in effective ways. There are many ways that this can happen but below are some tips to take your meetings to the next level and increase the engagement of the entire team.
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone asks: “So, what’s this all about?”
Well that solely means that the individuals were not properly prepared for the meeting. So turn to the easy solution, PREP THEM! Those who are attending the meeting should knows the purpose of it before it happens. This can be done with a pre-meeting agenda or a prefacing email to the topics that are to be discussed. This allows individuals time to prepare their thoughts and responses. If there are any assignments to others this should be communicated at this time as well.
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone sends the discussion or the entire meeting down an unrelated direction?
Leaders, you are responsible for limiting the amount of unrelated discussion that occurs within the meeting. You should reinforce the agenda and use that as your road map to guide the team in the direction they should continue to take to get to the meeting deliverables. If you allow “meeting stew” then you will start to bore some and upset others and nine times out of ten nothing gets accomplished. As hard as it may be to want to veer off into the fun discussions of sports, weekends, and plans, become very diligent at sticking to the road map to get you through. Save the small talk for lunch break or the water cooler.
Have you been a meeting where everyone is head down, buried in their laptops or phones?
Every meeting should come with a clear set of ground rules. A meeting where participants aren’t paying attention is bound to end in a shipwreck. Things will get missed or worse not completed or not even addressed. You must encourage everyone’s participation upfront. This may mean no cell phones on or no laptops open. In extreme cases if a phone call or email must be responded to, ask them to take it out of the room where they are not such a distraction. This is also applicable for any online participants; they must be expected to follow the ground rules just as much as those present. Build and use the ground rules, you will be glad you did.
Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone seemed to have their own and sometimes competing purpose?
Leaders listen in here. It is your job to make sure that everyone fully understands the purpose of the meeting. Professional leaders always have a vision of success and will visualize what the meeting should produce or deliver. “Start with the End in Mind.” – Steven Covey used the expression meaning that you should always be focused on the end result. Sure, everyone else will have thoughts and opinions and in a positive meeting format they will share them, but it is all with purpose of working toward the common goal. Set the agenda, preface the meeting and stick to the path to get to the finish line together.
Have you ever been in a meeting where the virtual participants are unresponsive or almost forgotten?
Remote folks are frequently ignored, not because you don’t value their feedback or what they bring to the table, but there is a component of not having a body present in the room that makes them easy to forget. Ask them to take the lead, begin with them for reports or feedback instead of waiting until the end. But like we talked about before, even though they are not physically in the room, make the ground rules apply to them as well. Encourage them to have their camera on and to not be muted. Also, no multi-tasking, working on email, surfing social media, or shopping. They must be as engaged as the rest of the team. Sometimes even more so because of their inability to lean over and ask a question to the person sitting next to them.
Meetings have a bad reputation, but they don’t have to be these long boring obligatory time wasters that some have made them out to be. If you are having the right meetings at the right times you shouldn’t have to worry about the engagement of your team. These weekly or monthly engagements are pre-planned times that the team can gather, collaborate, and work towards the business or team goals. Make them count!
With a passion for people, Kasey strives to understand the challenges that the Ag industry faces on the human side. She has confidence that creating positive working cultures will improve employee satisfaction and retention.