Five Meeting Trends That Need to Disappear in 2019
Meetings are a necessary part of the workplace. They are where decisions are made, visions are cast, products are shaped, and deals are struck. Meetings are the formal method of bringing the right people into the same room to make business happen. But meetings are often misconducted, making them one of the most disliked and misused functions of the corporate environment.
Here are five common meeting mistakes that managers make along with replacement practices for each. Implement these to make your meetings less frustrating and produce better results.
Weekly Monday Morning Planning Meetings
The premise of these meetings is good - you want your team focused and on the same page for the week ahead. But when you walk into work and sit down (or stand) at your desk, it’s common to be surprised by a weekend email that requires immediate attention. How can you sit in a meeting and talk confidently about your plan for the week when you don’t understand it yourself?
Instead of Mondays, shift your weekly planning meetings to Tuesdays and Friday mornings. This shift allows your team to stabilize, confirm calendars, and show up to the meetings prepared. The Friday meetings exist to review work completed, to track progress, and to put together a plan for the next week.
If you put a meeting on the schedule, it needs to serve a purpose. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a meeting that accomplishes nothing. Executed properly, your team should walk away from every meeting with greater clarity than before it started. Here’s a quick exploration of what this looks like in two meeting types.
Decisional meetings should be short, as the planning and research should be completed already. Do a quick review of the highlights, and make a decision. It will quickly become clear if the team is not ready to make a decision. Don’t rush it or let the meeting run over; accept it and set a new date to make a decision.
Planning meetings tend to be longer and more complex than decisional meetings because the planning process is dynamic. The key to a good agenda in these meetings is focus - keep it on topic and break it down into chunks. Each attendee should leave the meeting with clarity about what they need to do next.
No Person in Charge
It doesn’t have to be you as the team manager every time, but there always needs to be a specific person in charge of the meeting. Without one a meeting will quickly fall into chaos as each attendee seeks to further their agendas.
As a manager, you don’t have to run every meeting. Rotating the “person in charge” responsibility of recurring meetings is a great tool to develop team members. It exposes them to things outside of their regular duties. Set a precedent, help them plan, let them lead.
Too Many People in the Room
One big reason meetings go off topic and take too long is there are too many people in attendance. There’s a big difference between taking everybody’s opinion into account and knowing when a person's opinion counts.
In reality, you’re doing those not in attendance a favor by allowing them to stay focused on their daily tasks.
Daily Status Meetings:
If, as a manager, you need a “daily status meeting” you’ve lost touch with those who work for you. I recently had a conversation with a software engineer who worked for a boss that scheduled sixty-minute status meetings every day. His team felt betrayed and annoyed. As a group of eight, they were losing 40 person-hours of work every week because of these excessive meetings.
Instead of hosting so many meetings, be engaged and move around your office. In the Coast Guard, we used to call it “leadership by walking around.” This type of presence will not only ensure you know what’s going on with your team, but you’ll get to know your team better on a personal level — my favorite place to employ this technique: a coffee shop. It’s not a meeting, it’s a place to get to know people - do this regularly and your team will keep you up to date without meetings.
In summary, keep meetings short, keep them on topic with a person in charge, only include necessary people, and be more strategic in your scheduling. Your people will be grateful.