In our recent post How to Make All of Your Meetings More Effective we talked about how much of our working life we spend in meetings. According to The Times, people in the UK spend over 23 days per year in meetings, and according to studies by The Independent, 13 days of these meetings are completely unproductive. There are meetings for meetings sake in a lot of businesses, and often we can get so much meeting fatigue that we fail to establish the vital few from the unproductive many. In this post we are going to look at the three types of meeting that will make your business more effective.
When Do We Need A Meeting?
The first key is to know when meetings are required over other forms of communication. The two instances below are typical meeting agendas, however can often be done more effectively without the need for a meeting.
- Simple Project Update Meetings – It is often so much quicker and more efficient to use an online project management system to provide status updates, than have a meeting every time. At Duo we use monday.com to keep us, and our clients, in the loop for project updates.Many teams also use group chat for this purpose. This way, sharing information with the wider team becomes a natural part of working and teams that use this approach tend to communicate more frequently. The exception to this is in more complex projects like for example a construction project where the updates need more explanation, but if it is a simply on or off track update – save time without the meeting.
- Information Sharing – If you are simply sharing information that isn’t interpretive in nature – i.e. “this is happening, at this time” – it is often easier and more effective to just broadcast that in an email where people can read it in their own time. The caveat with this is when your information sharing meetings also are joint team building events, for example an annual company update or business plan sharing – in that example it is always better to do in person.
Three Types Of Meetings Your Business Should Have
Meetings are a necessary part of communication and problem solving for every business, but they aren’t always as productive as they should be.
In order to make your meetings as useful as possible, working to a strict agenda and time is the best way to execute this – one of the meeting structures we use with our clients is a sync meeting. This is a 30-60 minute meeting, depending on how many people you include, and operates to inform & align a group. It can be used for leaders to update and hear from managers, for project teams to stay connected, or for department level meetings. The agenda is as follows:
- Scorecard Review (5 mins) – when you start the meeting process you set out a scorecard that everyone in the meeting contributes to and it will give you an immediate pulse on the health of that part of the business, project or department. We call these “desert island statistics”. Imagine you were stuck on a desert island with no access to phone or email – you could only tell whether your business / project / department was on or off track by this set of numbers – what would they look like? Everyone puts in their numbers prior to the meeting to save time and then you simply review and discuss any “off track” items.
- Action Register Review (2 mins) – update on any actions from the last meeting to hold accountability – again the idea is that people update prior to the meeting and this is simply giving everyone time to read over (and hold accountability).
- Leader Update (5 mins) – whoever is leading the meeting and the team in the meeting provides an update. I.e. with one of our clients – the MD of the business provides an update to his managers on the current status of the business and key actions / communication he would like them to share with their teams.
- Attendee Update (1 min each) – all of the attendees in the meeting provide a 1 minute update. You can determine the theme of these updates – it could be priorities for the week ahead, wins and losses from the week before, project updates etc.
- Wrap Up & Action Cascade (2 min) – the facilitator / leader of the meeting wraps up with the agreed actions so everyone is clear on next steps – and then notes down an action register to follow up at the next meeting.
This process, when executed correctly, aligns everyone on the same page, and saves huge amounts of time (we had one Director of a business whittle his time from catching up separately with 12 different managers each week to this one meeting, saving him over 8 hours a week!).
The key is to hold everyone accountable to inputting information ahead of the meeting then sticking to time. Once people know they will be held accountable, and that the meeting will be informative, and well run, not running over in time or going off on a tangent, they will engage.
Effective One To Ones
In the iconic book the “One Minute Manager” you will meet an effective manager who gets big results in very little time – and it is all down to his conversations with his team. If you are looking to get more impact, in less time this is one of the types of meetings you will want to pay closer attention to.
Catch ups with team members often go off track, and while the intention is good, they often become a drain both on manager and employee, resulting in them either not happening as regularly as they should, or having ineffective conversations with no real impact.
In between one to ones with your team, one minute course corrections are really effective in keeping your team on track (this of course doesn’t replace general relationship & rapport building, but helps when driving action in little time). These can include:
- One minute performance correction – often when looking at team performance, it can become a longer process than it needs to be. A useful technique to use is to look at performance in behavioural terms – what behaviour do you need to see that enables you to determine whether someone is performing at a high level?
Essentially you are looking at what was expected, i.e. the positive behaviour, versus what you are observing. A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening.
For some of the roles of your direct reports, note down what you would deem to be high performance in behavioural terms – how can you share this with them so you are both expecting the same thing?
- One minute praising – catching your team doing things right and immediately recognising them is the best way to reinforce positive behaviour in order to drive more of the same & up level your team across the board.
Decision Making Meetings
The decision making processes in your business directly impact the levels of ownership and autonomy of your team. As a general rule – decision making should lie closest to the person with the most information, versus who has more hierarchical power. So as an example, if you have someone doing customer service and they are an expert in that area and a particular client, you want to give them more decision making authority than their manager who doesn’t have as much knowledge of that particular client.
When looking at the types of meetings in your business, decision making is one example where it can often be easier to get people in one room together versus emails back and forth between a lot of people. When running a decision making meeting the following agenda often works well:
- What’s the proposal?
- Who owns the ultimate decision?
- What are everyone’s thoughts? *this can be useful to gather on email prior to the meeting to avoid “piggybacking” on the most senior person’s opinion
- Does anyone object?
- What are the next steps?
Conclusion – What Types of Meetings Will Most Impact Your Business?
The types of meetings you have and how they are run not only has a huge impact on productivity, but also on your overall culture and individual performance. To wrap up this post, it can be useful from time to time to run a meeting audit across your business to really look at what is efficient and what isn’t. Consider some of the following questions:
- How many meetings do you have?
- What types of meetings do you typically have?
- How do these differ at different levels in the business?
- Are they face to face, virtual, mixed?
- How do people collaborate outside of these meetings?
- Are they mainly 1-2-1 or one to many?
- Which ones are really effective? Which needs improvement?
- Do you run all company briefings?
Once you have audited – where may you need to make changes? What types of meetings may you want to add to, refine, or takeaway from your current practices? Any meeting you have should always be driving an outcome, if it isn’t it shouldn’t be there.
For more information on how we audit, implement and run more effective meeting structures for our clients, please just reach out!