Here are some ideas to help you keep your meetings in check:
- Limit the meeting size: Gallo recommends no more than seven people. If your meeting is only supposed to go for an hour and you want everyone to be able to participate, then limiting it to 5 people is even better. That way, everyone will definitely have time to talk. This is why it is important to plan your Rhythm cascade groups carefully. Remember that the people you put together in the group will be together for Weekly Adjustment Meetings. Rather than lumping together 10 people in a Sales & Marketing group, it might be better to have separate groups for Sales and for Marketing so they can have smaller, more effective meetings. (Unless, of course, these teams really do need to be in the same discussions each week.)
- No digital distractions: Eliminating smart phones, laptops and tablets can help eliminate distractions during meetings. Since we aren’t really capable of multitasking, it is never a good idea to try answering emails or checking social media while “listening” in a meeting. It just doesn’t work. Also, most people find it rude and distracting when others in a meeting check their devises. Nothing sends a more clear message that you’re checked out or don’t care about what’s being discussed. So, encouraging everyone to unplug during the meeting will help the team stay on task. Of course, if you are the one facilitating the meeting, you’ll need to have your computer up to run Rhythm software or slides. You might set some ground rules with your team and agree on what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable use of technology during meetings (such as, taking notes or referencing relevant information is acceptable while checking email, instant messaging and social media are not).
- Stick to an hour or less: Keeping to a shorter meeting time will help you stick to the agenda, keep the team focused, and make decisions faster. Of course, you should never sacrifice having quality discussions and making sure everyone is heard before making a decision just to keep the meeting time short. You might find that you need to put a particularly important discussion topic in your Parking Lot for later or even schedule a separate adjustment meeting to work on that specific problem with the right people. It is better to schedule a separate meeting and stick to your Weekly Adjustment Meeting agenda than it is to rush through an important decision to finish on time.
- Try standing up: According to Gallo’s article, research shows that stand up meetings are “about 34% shorter than sit-down meetings, yet produce the same solutions.” Don’t let this format become a distraction for the team, but it is worth a try if you have some team members who beat a dead horse and just don’t know when to stop talking. Standing up will almost certainly move them along faster! This should be standard practice for your team’s Daily Huddle.
- Everyone participates: Hearing from the whole group not only gives you more insights and ideas to work with, it also helps the team stay engaged, on their toes, and feeling like their ideas were heard. So you don’t catch anyone off guard, make the expectation clear that everyone should contribute, and don’t be afraid to call on people who haven’t shared yet. In your Weekly Adjustment Meeting, everyone has the floor for a few minutes to share their plan for the week; however, the team should also be ready to actively engage before this, during discussions about adjustments to Red and Yellow priorities and KPIs.
- Never have status meetings: Having a meeting to share something you could put in an email is nothing but a waste of time. Status meetings not only waste time, they also deplete the team’s energy and eat up resources that could be used for solving problems. This is why it is critical to take time to effectively prepare before your Weekly Adjustment Meeting - update your status and make comments on anything that’s Red or Yellow. This way, the meeting time itself is for discussing solutions and not updating status.
- Have an agenda and a purpose: Before you walk into the room, you should know what’s on the agenda and what will make the meeting successful. You need to communicate a clear objective so that the team knows what needs to be accomplished in the time allotted. Sending an agenda ahead of time will help the team know what to expect and to start thinking about how they want to contribute to the meeting.
Hopefully, these tips can help you keep your team’s meeting rhythms running smoothly and help you move faster and make better use of your time rather than getting stuck in a meeting rut.