Making meetings much more dynamic – Part 1 of 3
Making meetings much more dynamic – Part 1 of 3
Ah meetings! Good ones can motivate and educate, promote teamwork and keep people on task. You know what poor ones can do. Sadly, the wasted time, frustration and conflict that can arise from bad meetings is experienced much more than the benefits of the good ones. Yet time and again we utilize meetings. Why? Because we know they have the potential to solve problems and bolster productivity. They rarely do though, because what’s missing in the common utilization of meetings is meetings discipline.
Here are 10 recommendations to instill meetings discipline in your workplace. All 10 are encouraged, though you may initially want to choose just a few to reduce the amount of change at one time. The first three involve preparation discipline, and involve effort before the meeting even starts!
Recommendation #1: Develop a clear, tangible objective to be accomplished
You clearly want to move forward on some topic: some problem that needs solving or progress of some sort in a particular area. It is important that you take the time to prepare a statement that defines the purpose of what a meeting would be for. Far too often, meetings are scheduled with themes that are too vague, with intentions far too general to really allow for focused discussion. This over-generality is one of the primary contributors to unproductive meetings – people talk and talk but the discussion is not focused on the accomplishment of a specific objective.
The definition of a clear, tangible objective facilitates provides the contextual structure you need and acts as a guide as to what your best next steps are. It also provides you with a more concrete “checklist” of sorts, so that you can ascertain whether and to what degree the objectives are ultimately accomplished.
Recommendation #2: Be sure that a meeting is the best way to achieve your objective
Part of meetings discipline is to use them sparingly – that is, we should only be holding meetings when they are determined to be the best way to achieve the objective. Too often, we default to calling a meeting (which are expensive and time-consuming, especially when we factor in opportunity costs) when an alternative to a meeting can yield equal or better results.
The first step is to see just how far you can get in accomplishing the objective on your own. With some creativity and imagination, many people might surprise themselves as to how much progress they can make in terms of problem-solving. As questions arise and gaps in your own skill set become evident, flag these areas and make notes on who could be most helpful to you. At some point you will most likely decide it is time to call on others – but can you summon their input some other way than a meeting?
Perhaps a clearly laid out list of questions via e-mail may suffice. Or perhaps a phone call (or combining these). Maybe one-on-one visits (the two-person meeting) can get it done. Surveys could be considered. You get the point – if after considering alternatives a meeting still makes sense then book it. You will probably find that over time you can reduce the number of meetings to some degree by exploring other options.
Recommendation #3: Start the meeting when it’s time (that doesn’t always mean on time)
You may have been told to “always start meetings on time” as part of effective meetings management plan. But what if something like a snowstorm has held up some key people? To start a meeting exactly on time in the event of a justifiable delay seems far too rigid, and creates a situation where you wind up going over items already discussed as key people arrive. Use good judgement here!
Another scenario where you might wait an extra few minutes is when several people who don’t get to see each other face-to-face often are conversing (about anything) – if you feel that there is camaraderie being built, it might make sense to delay the start a few minutes. Once you start (as you will see in Part 2) it is all business, so if a short delay is productive you should consider it. To be clear, delays should be short and strategic.
Coming very soon are the next four suggestions to get the most out of meetings. They are all tactics to employ during meetings. The return on investment with respect to meetings discipline is high, so they come highly recommended!
Feel free to contact us with any questions at cscholey @ outlook.com or 416.209.0704.
Cam Scholey, MBA, Ph.D., CPA, FCPA, FCMA (Principal Advisor at Best in Scho, Toronto) trains and develops people to build and then effectively use tools for superior performance management. He has written several management accounting guidelines (MAGs) and articles on strategy mapping and balanced scorecard. His first book, A Practical Guide to the Balanced Scorecard was published in 2002 (CCH Canadian).
Cam creates and custom designs strategy maps and balanced scorecards for organizations in both the profit and not-for-profit sector. He is endorsed by several CPAs of Ontario in Strategic Planning, Financial Analysis, Budgets, Research and other business disciplines. He is also a19-year university instructor (in-class and online – primary courses: financial accounting; management accounting; management controls; finance). He is best suited to get on track, or develop from scratch your PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT. Get in touch now at 123-123-1234 (WhatsApp, text or call)