Meetings, in most corners, don`t have the best of reputations.
I often hear people say, “I`ve got to go to a meeting,” but I don`t think I`ve ever heard someone say, “I get to go to a meeting.”
Too many meetings with too few results; often rehashing or revisiting issues and actions that haven`t been done at previous meetings. And, as people sit there all they can think is that this is a complete waste and/or that they could be doing something else (anything else) with their time.
Meetings are a complex affair, especially as the number of attendees grows. This is one reason why the frustrations are so high, and the results so dismal, for most meetings.
But it doesn`t have to be that way.
Here are four tools to improve your meetings. Each can improve your meetings in a variety of ways, but at the core, the real root cause for the improvement is that each of these tools puts more accountability into meetings.
Create Clear Desired Outcomes
Why are you having a meeting?
If you can`t clearly describe what the meeting is meant to accomplish, how can you possibly achieve anything? Before checking the calendar to schedule a meeting, make sure you have clearly defined statements of what you want to achieve.
These clearly stated objectives – written so that everyone knows when they have been achieved, without any room for interpretation – form the basis for the meeting. They also give you a fighting chance of creating mutual accountability for achieving these objectives.
Invite the Right People
One reason meetings are ineffective is that often participants don`t know why they are even there. It`s hard to be accountable for your behaviors or results when you don`t know what your role is. Determining the right people to attend your meeting is seemingly obvious, but it`s too often an overlooked (or overbooked) task.
Start with your desired outcomes and a blank sheet of paper. Look at the desired outcomes and ask who must participate, who`s input or buy-in is required, and plan to invite only those people.
That`s the first step, determining the right people. The second, equally important step, is actually inviting them.
In the best case this is more than a group email, but rather a quick comment or conversation with each person as to why he or she is important to the success of the meeting.
Would you be more committed to a meeting that you were invited to with clear reasoning about why you`ve been asked to participate (as opposed to getting another electronic meeting request)?
My point exactly.
Send An Agenda Ahead of Time
I`ve taught this idea to thousands of people. Everyone says they know they should have agendas, but generally people say that less than half of the meetings they attend have them. And often less than half of those are agendas sent out beforehand.
If you want people to even have a chance to be prepared for the meeting, they need to know what is going to happen and the expectation of what is to be achieved. An agenda with your desired outcomes listed will achieve both of those goals.
Ever been to a meeting unprepared or attended meetings where others were? While pre-sent agendas won`t assure this never happens again, they will change the dynamics of the situation.
Peer pressure and expectations change when people have had every opportunity to be prepared. Agendas, sent before the meeting, give everyone that opportunity.
Use Action Items Correctly
Notice that the first three suggestions all happen before the meeting even begins. So, if you were waiting for an in-meeting tool – here it is – and it`s huge.
Have you ever been to a meeting where decisions are made and actions identified, but at the start of the next meeting, and the next (and maybe the next), nothing has actually happened?
Using action items correctly is a huge step to solving this, and getting more done with greater accountability. Here is the best practice in short:
1. Capture every action determined during the meeting.
2. Don`t adjourn the meeting until each action has an owner and agreed to date.
3. Start each successive meeting with a brief review of action item status.
When you know you have an action item, and you know it will be highlighted and you will be held accountable for progress/completion at the next meeting, does it improve the likelihood you make progress?
See what I mean?
Of course each of these ideas could be further explained and refined, but this overview gives you four important, easy to apply and extremely powerful ways to build accountability for the success of all your meetings.
When applied within your organization, maybe you won`t say, “I get to go to that meeting,” but hopefully you will at least know the time will be productively spent.
Remarkable Leaders know improving the effectiveness of meetings is a skill with great leverage for improving organizational performance. Improving accountability is just one skill to be learned in The Remarkable Leadership Learning System – a one skill at a time, one month at a time approach to becoming a more confident and successful leader. You can get two months of that unique system for free as part of our Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com to become the leader you were born to be. Kevin is an author, speaker, trainer, consultant and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://www.KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company that helps organizations, teams and individuals unleash their leadership potential.