An effective meeting should be the engine of productivity in the workplace.A meeting is a discussion about where the company is going when it comes to brainstorming new ideas, discussing current issues, and making important decisions.
Unfortunately, many meetings end up being the exact opposite of being productive. Meeting participants spend the first ten minutes fiddling with the computer technology needed to attract remote employees, and then for several more minutes discussing almost personal plans.
Before any result is achieved, it is sometimes even necessary to postpone the meeting, set a new date for the meeting of the participants, since it becomes obvious that no real preparatory work has been carried out before the meeting. And the little valuable thing that was nevertheless achieved at the meeting is most often forgotten as soon as the conference room door closes.
And while there are plenty of apps and hardware to make it easy to connect with remote employees in a conference room and see and hear them all with exceptional picture and sound quality, it may not help to run an effective meeting. So how do you get the most out of these workshops and meetings?
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Make Sure This Is The Meeting You Need
There are few things in the world that can be worse than being tormented in a meeting. In many cases, the meeting could be replaced by e-mail correspondence, for example . Research shows that middle managers spend up to 35% of their time in meetings. And top management spends at least half of their day in extended meetings and meetings with other people. Therefore, before you add another meeting to your schedule, you should be absolutely sure that the meeting is really necessary.
Here are just a few of the questions you need to ask in order to decide if you need a scheduled meeting:
- Do I, the person scheduling the meeting, need input from others in the company to get the meeting’s questions and concerns resolved?
- Do you need a face-to-face meeting with other employees of the company to find ways to resolve the issues raised at the meeting?
- Will attending a meeting where you plan to invite company employees be the best pastime, the most effective way for invited employees to work?
If there is no answer to any of the questions raised, it is best to postpone the meeting until all materials for it have been prepared with due care. So that it would make sense for everyone who is going to meet to be there in person and during the appointed duration of the meeting.
Prepare And Circulate The Meeting Agenda To All Participants
One of the most important ways to have a productive meeting is to create an agenda for the upcoming meeting, outlining the tasks that will be addressed in the meeting, and then share the agenda for the upcoming meeting with all participants in advance. This will help everyone become familiar with the objectives of the meeting, as well as productively prepare before discussing the identified issues and problems.
A number of issues on the agenda of the meeting, oddly enough, can be resolved even before the start of the meeting. Since the identified problem, the voiced question for the meeting is in itself a certain guarantee of a successful solution of the issue or problem. Thus, it is possible not only to reduce the time allotted for the meeting, but also to find a solution to a number of issues, as they say, in absentia, even at the stage of preparing the meeting or working meeting.
A meeting without an agenda encourages its participants to come completely unprepared, because it is not clear what they need to prepare for, what questions will be raised, what problems they will have to respond to. The lack of information about the goals, objectives of the meeting, the agenda, the events that will be discussed at the meeting also removes responsibility from the invited participants of the meeting. How can you be responsible for something that you may hear about for the first time at a meeting, as they say, here and now. Thus, there is a reason to postpone problems, to postpone their solution until later.
A pre-announced agenda in one way or another sets the meeting participants on a working mood and invites them to prepare in advance for solving problems, even if the participants of the upcoming meeting do not yet have ready-made solutions. That’s what the meeting is for, to seek answers to questions collectively, helping each other with their unique knowledge and competencies on the stated issues on the agenda of the meeting.
“Turn On” Each Participant
When an employee is invited to a meeting, remember that their time has an opportunity cost. Any employee attending a meeting can lose valuable time that could be used to perform other equally important, and sometimes much more important work. This means that each meeting must be made valuable for all its participants.
You should be sure that only those who are necessary to resolve the issues raised are invited to the meeting. And as soon as the meeting begins, you should “turn on” them to work. The lack of attention from some meeting participants leads to a decrease in the productivity of the meeting. Moreover, an uninvolved employee can spend all the time allotted for a general meeting on the Internet, since now everyone has a sufficient number of gadgets for this. Or you can just openly sleep, sitting somewhere “in the gallery” or hiding behind a column of the conference room during a meeting.
An invited employee may not be “included” in the meeting for various reasons:
- not his questions
- he does not know the answers and solutions to them,
- the employee is not ready to solve problems,
- he needs to get ready first
- the like.
Such an employee should be exempt from attending the meeting. It is even better to apologize to him, despite the fact that he may not deserve an apology, because he could prepare in advance and then “let go in peace.” The removal of an unprepared and uninvolved employee from the meeting will be a signal to the other participants that such events, in fact, need to be prepared, and not lead to an incident with the removal.
Perhaps the worst thing that should not be reached under any circumstances is when none of the invited employees are involved in the meeting. And the meeting itself resembles a “one-man theatre”, when the leader of the meeting himself both voices the problems and finds solutions himself.
Why then the rest of the participants? To attend as spectators and enjoy the wonderful “acting” work of the presenter? A kind of theater in which tickets are not bought by the audience, but paid for by these tickets, is this the wasted time of the rest of the employees, the very only “actor” ? Is this effective management?
Create An Action Plan
When, against all odds, there has been an effective meeting where final decisions have been made, it is important to end the event with clearly defined options for action.
Effective follow-up plans for meetings and workshops include the following:
- specific actions (what needs to be done to solve the problem);
- the person responsible for performing the action (who must do the work to solve the problem);
- the deadline for the implementation of the planned actions (the date of the implementation of the activities);
- an agreement on what determines the success or completion of an action (a criterion for evaluating performance by which it can be unambiguously understood that the planned action has been carried out).
By the way, the usual practice of companies is to record actions, responsible executors and deadlines. But, as for the criteria for the implementation of planned activities, this is most often left to the discretion of the performer himself or the person who will check and control his work. This lack of agreement on the “done / not done” criteria leads to the fact that the performer may consider the action completed, while his manager or the one who scheduled the meeting where the problem resolution plan was prepared may consider the action not completed or partially completed, not completely .
Western management practice is more attentive to ensuring that, in addition to the action, the responsible executor and the deadlines, the plan contains criteria by which it would be possible to reliably judge the implementation of the planned activities or their non-fulfillment (fulfillment not in full).
Regular Meetings On One Topic
By the way, for regularly recurring meetings on the same topics, the same minutes of the meeting can be used, where the decisions of each subsequent meeting are recorded in order to see previous decisions and progress in solving problems, rather than starting at each meeting to solve recurring problems with clean slate.
Again, often repeated meetings at which the same issues are resolved, and without much progress, without much progress – this is already a sign that a different approach should be sought for this problem , rather than constantly discussing it collectively and, as they say, pouring from empty to empty.
As an option, it is possible to propose for “unsolvable” questions to which there are no effective answers, to move away from the Western approach to solving problems on the principle of “here and now”. It is worth remembering the Eastern approach, in which you need to learn to constantly live with the voiced problem until it somehow resolves itself (why not ?!) or someone finds a solution for it without any meetings. Why do we think that problems can only be solved together and only at meetings? Nothing like this!
By the way, automated systems for monitoring performance activities are quite effective for the first time . Let’s say an employee comes to work, applies a pass to an automated checkpoint, and suddenly sees on a large electronic display: “Hello, comrade Ivanov Ivan Ivanovich. Today the time has come for you to perform the following “glorious deeds”: and then the transfer follows.
And when leaving work: “Goodbye, comrade such and such! To date, you still have the following “glorious deeds” unfulfilled: and further enumeration. But this measure only applies to “newcomers”. Employees are gradually getting used to automated control, up to complete addiction, when they generally stop responding to such messages at all.
Not everything, of course, is as bad as it might seem at first glance. And here it is possible to establish effective control over the implementation of the planned measures. So don’t sit back and take action. Control, monitoring, control, monitoring, revision of plans, and again control, monitoring, control, monitoring .
Planning meetings, inviting only those who are needed to them, developing effective solutions, then planning the implementation of planned activities, implementing planned activities, monitoring the implementation of tasks – all this together should lead to results.
And only then the company’s employees recognize that the meetings are productive, they will become more willing to attend them and actively participate in their conduct, and not sit back or even “lie down”.