Last week we discussed research on the big problem with Binge Meeting Disorder and how ineffective meeting leaders create this major waste of time and energy.
When leaders sharpen their meeting leadership skills and practice good meeting hygiene, team collaboration, psychological safety to speak up, team results, engagement, and energy levels soar. Many pre-post studies show increases of 40 – 50%.
Given that “meetings, bloody meetings” are such a big source of frustration, overall job satisfaction often jumps when meeting effectiveness goes up. It’s like getting that Bull Moose hoof off your aching foot; it feels so much better to relieve the pain and be able to walk again!
Ten Meeting Essentials:
- Clear agendas with timeframes, objectives, and desired outcomes for each agenda item.
- Flexibility to add or delete agenda items/issues.
- Clarity about whether decisions/actions for each agenda item will be by command, consultation, or consensus.
- Processes for dealing constructively with conflict and disagreements.
- Clear action plans and next steps for each agenda item.
- Documentation and communication follow-through for this team and beyond.
- Regular evaluations of meeting effectiveness.
- Skilled leaders that know how to keep things on track and focused.
- An atmosphere of openness and trust.
- Ground rules everyone agrees to and follows.
These can be put in two main groups; disciplined meeting processes (1 – 7) and respectful participant behaviors (8 – 10).
Ground rules (sometimes called group norms) can make a big difference in guiding respectful participant behaviors. It’s a simple approach that’s often overlooked. Getting meeting participants to establish and agree to follow basic behaviors in working together paints the white lines and puts up the guard rails to keep discussions out of the ditch. These often include respecting timeframes, use of phones or other devices, keeping debates and disagreements in the meeting room, focusing on the issue or behavior, not the person, not cutting each other off, avoiding side conversations, and the like.
Periodically involving participants in meeting checkups will keep making your meetings better. This can be done through anonymous surveys, third-party interviews, “moose hunting” exercises, or asking what should we keep/stop/start doing to continually improve our meetings.
With discipline and skill building, healthy meetings can become a habit that boosts everyone’s well-being and performance.