At many businesses, the idea of a meeting can fill employees with dread. Experience has shown them that meetings are boring, unproductive, and a necessary evil – with “necessary” being a debatable adjective. This perception is due in large part to a severe lack of planning on the part of the leadership team.
Boring meetings do damage. When you understand what makes a meeting so unproductive, you can fix the problems. Instead, turn it around: Have productive, useful meetings that employees look forward to instead of cringe from.
Drama is a key factor in getting people engaged and most “boring” meetings lack it. Without conflict, there is no drama. Your employees mentally check out of the meeting before it even starts. Or to put it another way: If there isn’t a problem to solve, why are you even getting together?
Bring up the most controversial topics at the start of the meeting. If an issue is in desperate need of addressing, confront it head on. Expect everyone to participate in offering ideas for resolution. This could be just the level of drama that your meetings need to keep your employees locked in.
Another issue is lacking a clear purpose and context to your meetings. Some meetings exist to keep each other in the loop. But you can’t have these so often that people are too busy telling each other about progress that they can’t make any progress.
There are five types of meetings that your business must focus on to keep things in context: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and orientation/ training meetings.
By having more meetings, you eliminate the need for one overdrawn meeting scheduled randomly. These lengthy meetings lead to confusion and frustration for everyone. Issues are rarely resolved easily.
Break things down. Schedule set days and times for each type of meeting so that everyone knows what to expect and when. That makes everyone more prepared and ready to deliver when the time comes.
Every day, at a set time, have a quick and informal “check in.” These should be short, about 5-10 minutes; some people call them “stand up” meetings since they should take so little time that there’s no reason to sit down.
Use the time to get updates, assign daily tasks, and allow an open forum for questions and concerns. It is a chance to touch base with everyone and give a little pep talk to keep everyone motivated for the day.
Weekly meetings are fairly common. Spend an hour or so during these meetings to focus on specific issues and to find resolutions. This is a tactical meeting which allows the team to focus on what is immediately important.
These do not need a pre-planned structure. Instead, hit each department quickly for a rundown and spend time discussing things that affect the business as a whole. Once that is out of the way, decide what topics to cover by opening up the floor to everyone and focus only on what is critical and relevant.
The monthly meeting is for strategic planning. This is the place to discuss major issues and big topics, whatever has a long-term effect on the business. These meetings take more time. They allow – encourage! – deeper discussions and debate, where people can present new ideas. These meetings can take several hours and should mainly focus on only two topics.
Quarterly meetings can be held off-site to help employees take a step back from the business, both physically and mentally. This is a time to reevaluate strategy, discuss performance at every level, boost morale, and learn about the newest industry trends. It is also a great opportunity for team building projects and activities. These can be planned to last anywhere from a large part of the day or even several days.
Orientation and Training
When new team members join your organization, it is important to designate time for orientation and training. Entering a new position can leave many people feeling nervous; it’s the combination of new responsibilities and meeting new people.
If you are doing a mass hiring, even if it’s only two or three new hires, schedule the orientation for the same time. Depending on how much information is delivered, you may set aside an entire day for the orientation meeting.
Training meetings may also be necessary for your company anytime you introduce new software, deploy a new system, or make other changes that impact your employees. With these meetings, make sure you are giving everyone enough time to get an overview of the training material as well as time for employees to practice what they learn.
Meetings are essential to making sure your business is staying on track and that your employees are keeping up the pace. Take the time to plan each one. Accept that you need a number of meetings in order to get every drop of productivity from each one.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.