A recent article from Psychology Today focused on meetings and why they so often fail. Corporate Path Leadership agrees with most of the points in the article — and appreciates the fact that the focus of the article was how to make meetings more effective, including four main reasons to call a meeting in the first place.
However, the key point of the article — and one that we think should be emphasized — is the importance of the role of the leader for a meeting. The leader sets the tone and the story for a great meeting — or a poor meeting. What’s the difference?
How a Leader Drives a Great Meeting
- Sends agenda/goals for the meeting well in advance
- Owns the meeting and acts as facilitator
- Comes to the meeting prepared to talk about agenda specifics
- Asks for input/opinions throughout the meeting
- Knows when to cut off unproductive conversation to save for another time or group as needed
- Provides an oral recap during the meeting of the key actions/decisions
- Asks for timing for key actions in the meeting (may not always gain commitments until later)
- Provides a written recap of the actions/decisions after the meeting
“When well done, meetings can be a highly effective form of teamwork in which major problems are solved and important decisions are made, thus energizing the team and aligning its members towards productive goals.”-- David Ludden Ph.D., Talking Apes
How a Leader Contributes to a Poor Meeting
- No goals or agenda for the meeting
- Shows up for the meeting but doesn’t act as a driver during the meeting
- Doesn’t have any updates for the group
- Dominates the meeting conversation
- Lets the time be filled by any conversation
- Allows everyone to leave without actions assigned
- No communication on the meeting topics until the next meeting occurs
“…Poorly conducted meetings have lingering negative after-effects on organizational productivity. Employees are in a bad mood, so they don’t work hard or carefully at their jobs, and they waste time complaining with their colleagues about what a waste of time the meeting was.”-- David Ludden Ph.D., Talking Apes
Another point that caught our attention was the fact that some meetings — described as Share Information sessions — could be replaced by email or newsletters instead of status update sessions. While that can work in some instances, we feel that too often these passive vehicles are used as an easy substitution for in-person meetings.
The problem with the passive approach is that people often won’t read the email or newsletter. This then equates to people not being informed, and therefore teams not being as productive because they’re missing key information. The other challenge with this type of vehicle is that the information can be misinterpreted, as this “push” method of communication leaves no room for questions, clarification or collaborative decision-making.
Tips for Keeping Attendees Energized:
- Use a round-table approach, enabling each team member to share their updates with the group and encourage bonding
- Leverage team meetings to brainstorm and solve a common challenge
- Discourage side conversations and keep the meeting on task
- Encourage attendees to look for ways to contribute to the conversation with questions or suggestions
So the question is, how will you take control and be a leader of productive meetings in 2019? Following the simple steps above is a great start.
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