How to Stop Wasting Time in Meetings
Everyone has been there before, and probably three too many times this week alone…. A meeting that was a waste of YOUR time - and could have been replaced with an email. You are not alone! Attending too many meetings was voted the number 1 time waster in this Wall Street Journal article. I'm not saying that meetings aren't important and aren't needed to help keep teams connected. The question is, how do we hold effective meetings? There are countless reasons for why meetings can be a waste of time; however, let's shift gears to a more positive POV and teach you what can be done to make meetings more effective. Best Practices Your leadership team should be holding weekly meetings. By shortening the time interval between meetings you increase activity and decreases procrastination - getting more of the right stuff done. This also prevents bottlenecks and keeps alignment. Your agenda should have 3 key topics: Reporting, Problem Solving & Next Steps.
Reporting doesn't mean going into great depth about why your project is running behind schedule and who's fault it is - that's what status report emails are for. It means telling your peers if you are on-track or off-track. If you're on-track, congrats! If you're off-track, we can address that later in the agenda when it's time to problem solve - if it's a prioirty. The key here is to provide short and to the point answers: on-track/off-track, done/not done. This is also where you help drive accountability by providing an update on the prior commitments you've made to your peers.
2. PROBLEM SOLVING
This is where the bulk of your time spent together should be. Prioritize your top few issues and opportunities that need to be resolved and tackle them one at a time. You may have a list of 20 items and that's okay. Take a minute or two and decide which ones are impeding progress and need to be resolved today. Then, Define what the root cause is by digging deeper. Get Aligned with what needs to take place to resolve and then Commit to taking action so this issues can be crossed off your list. Some meetings you might get through 5 issues and opportunities and others you might only get through one, and that's okay. The important part is that you're resolving the MOST pressing topics that are holding you back with the time you have together.
3. NEXT STEPS
Recap what attendees have committed to and get their alignment so expectations are clear leaving the meeting on who will be doing what. Lastly, make sure you're finishing your meetings ON-TIME so you're not causing others to be late for their prior commitments. Notice that there is not a "Status Report" section? That's because these can be handled via email and almost always turn into a conversation going down several rabbit holes. This is one of the first tools I rollout when working with small businesses because it helps get everyone on the same page and brings forward a tremendous amount of value out of the gates. Team members are better in sync because they know the progress and struggles that each other have, which helps them become a stronger team. Also, they're able to solve for more issues and opportunities in a single meeting. This means they need fewer meetings, which allows them to get even more work done. What Should You Do? If this sounds like your company and you're wanting to get more control and remove "time waster" meetings, contact me. I'd be happy to share more best practices and send you an agenda that you can use today to run more effective meetings.