Recently I have been reviewing the meetings I am attending to determine their effectiveness. Like many, I am guilty of attending routinely scheduled meetings where the desired outcomes are not clearly defined. On the face of it they appear to be good meetings, actions are derived, allocated to attendees and a completion date assigned. However, attendees know that there is an element of “going through the motions” that not everybody has read the papers and many are unhappy at the drain on their time.
The problem is one of attitude. The leader needs to shake the meeting out of stasis by:-
1. Focusing on actions needed
Too often I am in meeting where the “meaty” issues are talked about yet no conclusion is reached, the issue is simply parked or kicked down the road whilst more information is gathered. This is a way of avoiding decisions and being accountable to the meeting. Deep down people know this, hence the mindless actioning of minor insignificant tasks to make attendees feel like some good has come of their time. The truth is that it is a massive waste of everybody’s time and the de-motivational effect is significant. The solution is one phrase, “So what are we going to do about it?” Yes it really is that simple,. At the end every topic of conversation ask that question. Do not allow the answer to be anything other than positive action. Neither ideas nor talk make money. Actions do.
Action point: – At the end of every topic ask – “So what are we going to do about it then?”
2. Make people accountable for completion dates
Follow up the actions to ensure that they are completed in a timely manner and not just “rolled forward to the next meeting”. Too many times I have heard the phrase,” I didn’t have time, I will do it for next week”, worse still I hear, “Its OK I know you have been really busy, you won’t have done this will you”. Actions make money or save money, if it is important enough to take up the time of several meeting attendees then it should be done. If it isn’t that important, it shouldn’t even be talked about at the meeting.
Action Point – At your next meeting go through the action points and delete or delegate the minor issues. For all the rest set an expectation that “rolling forward” dates will not be tolerated.