Aug 28, 2013

More Meetings! Don't Schedule Until You Read This

A common complaint in today's office environment is enough meetings already!  In fact, many employees report lack of productivity due to less and less time available to perform their actual job functions. Whether you are an executive managing a large organization or a mid manager responsible for a sales team, here are a few tips to consider before sending that next meeting request.
  • Scheduling - Be considerate and give adequate notice.  Invite only the employees required.  This may be tough if inclusion and politics press you to invite passive attendees.  If this is an "All Hands Call" for a large organization, record and distribute a replay option.  This gives employees the ability to determine availability and give their full attention.  Also, think about time of day.  Do you want to schedule an analytic meeting immediately following lunch?
  • Determine Length of Meeting - Be reasonable.  If you have general updates or topics that are not problematic but are worthy of a short meeting, schedule time accordingly. One of my clients is a Manager of a small group.  He insist his employees stand during weekly meetings.  He believes that if they sit down at a conference table, bring coffee and snacks, they view the time as social.   His meetings tend to be rather short.
  • Have an Agenda - This is a MUST!  I can not emphasize this enough.  An agenda sets expectations for attendees.  I attended a weekly meeting with 30+ participants.  The host would open by asking the partners individually, "what's on your mind" or "what do you have to share".  The meet felt more like a group therapy session that work.  One should include a start time, topics, speakers, and an end time.  By providing the topic(s), attendees can determine how they may participate and add value.  
  • State the purpose - When putting together the agenda state the purpose.  Will the time the employees invest be beneficial?  How?  If  the meeting is designed to gather information, let the participants know in advance. You may ask for a volunteer with a formal time slot to share content and best practices.  Take every opportunity to make the meeting interactive to avoid another boring meeting. As Jon Petz so eloquently explains how Boring Meetings Suck: Get More Out of Your Meetings, or Get Out of More Meetings  
  • Consider Frequency - Benefit and risk determine this.  If your team is meeting once a week to discuss poor results, will additional meetings improve performance?  Or,  should business strategy and execution be revisited?  Client requests and large proposals often require recurring meetings to secure commitment and resource availability across various organizations.
  • Be Flexible with Venue - With the technology available today is "in-person" attendance required? Many HR policies determine this.  But companies should reconsider.  Why not take advantage of  increased productivity realized from reduced travel time, decreased employee stress, and  and improved collaboration. By enabling employees to meet anywhere at anytime we focus and compensate for performance vs. attendance.  High definition video has significantly reduced travel expenses for many companies.  There is a simple ROI for the once perceived pricey technology such as a TelePresence SX20 Quick Set With Precision HD 1080p 4x Camera .  Executives are able to easily conduct meetings around the world or across the city without leaving their home or office.
Whether an employee enters the meeting from a door, an Apple iPhone with video or more advanced technology, the venue is no longer important.I hope you consider the tips and suggestions before you book your next meeting.  The attendees will be grateful.