Every organization has to figure out how to make meetings more effective. It’s a complex challenge. To be productive, each meeting needs to engage the individual talents of the people involved, work to achieve the organization’s specific goals for the moment, and do so in a way that’s both culturally relevant and contextually sensitive to the world around it—not an easy feat.
It can be tempting to shy away from the task. Instead of embracing this complexity, many leaders fall back on simple blanket rules that no one really follows—like the leader that declared all meetings in the company could last no more than 20 minutes. Others delegate responsibility for success to others, even though they, themselves, are the most frequent meeting attendees. Many leaders claim that meetings are a waste of time, and therefore not worth the effort it would take for the organization to make them work well.
These are common traps that keep an organization locked in a cycle of underperforming meetings and endemic mediocrity.
Here are five ways high-performing organizations avoid that fate:
Set clear expectations for all meetings.
Meeting norms, ground rules, guidelines set the foundation for building an effective meeting habit. They often include things like use of an agenda and keeping meetings on time. Whatever your rules, the leadership team must follow them. The way the leadership group meets sets the real standard everyone else follows.
Document and share meeting results.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) compels people to attend meetings they shouldn’t. Organizers don’t want to leave people out, so they invite everyone who might possibly want to weigh in. Having irrelevant people in the room de-energizes the conversation and disrupts productivity.
Documented meeting results are the fastest and easiest way to combat meeting FOMO. Before the meeting, document the meeting purpose and desired outcomes clearly. Then send out written meeting results afterward. When people can see in advance what a meeting is for, then see afterwards what happened, they can decide whether they need to attend in the future. This keeps meetings more focused, and it keeps everyone more productive.