It’s a fact in today’s business world that meetings typically take up a large part of your day. In fact, some days are spent running from one meeting to the next with barely any time to catch your breath! However, I have rarely (okay, never) heard anyone say that these meetings are the best tools to execute against their company’s strategic plans. Well, at least that’s not what they tell me before they come to Rhythm Systems to fix their problems and leverage our unparalleled expertise on how to run meetings that truly work. In fact, so many of our prospects tell us that their meetings have become ineffective, we decided to make a video about it. If you’d like to see what a great cadence of effective meetings can do for you, visit our client page to find out more about what they say after working with us!
With just a little bit of effort, you can make meetings one of the most productive parts of your day. I know it may seem hard to believe, but what other time do you have to brainstorm with your intelligent colleagues to solve the challenges facing your company? There is an old proverb that two heads are better than one, and there is a reason for it. An additional viewpoint, crucial insight, new data set or just a helping hand is often all that you need to overcome the challenge(s) you and your team are facing. Make the commitment now to make your meetings more productive and reap the benefits of focused teamwork by learning how to effectively run a weekly or monthly meeting.
Running a meeting can be boiled down to six simple steps. Some of the steps may seem like common sense, but I think we can agree that sense is uncommon at most poorly run meetings. All six of these steps are important in their own way. Some may be new to you, but put the effort in now to set your organization up for success. Getting into the rhythm of running effective meetings week after week to drive the team towards their goals will reap benefits for you, your team and your company for years to come. Rhythm Systems has a robust library of meeting resources that will help you prepare, facilitate, create a personalized agenda, and outline the best meeting rhythms to maximize your meeting productivity.1. Targeted Invitee List
One of the biggest impacts you can make on your meetings takes place even before you get in the conference room to fight over stale donuts and bagels. It takes place when you first set up your meeting. Think hard about who needs to be in the room in order to make it as effective as possible. You want to keep the invitee list to the minimum number of people required to do the job - and not one more. Colleagues who need to be informed of the content of the meeting can be brought up to speed by an email – rather than attending the full session. This allows the person to spend more time working on the essential tasks that need to get done. If you require outside expertise in certain weeks, invite the appropriate colleagues as needed.2. Create a Full Value Contract
Once you get the right team of people together in your meeting, you want to ensure that you make the best use of your time. As many meetings repeat at a specific cadence (such as daily, weekly or monthly) with similar attendees, create a Full Value Contract, or a set of ground rules, for all of your meetings. Develop a set of rules with the group so that everyone can get the full value out of the meeting. Ask your team “What type of behaviors do team members need to demonstrate so we can concentrate on solving problems?” and you’ll get the Full Value Contract that works best for your team. Many of our most successful clients have standards set up in regards to smartphone usage, valuing everyone’s opinion, speaking time limits and much more. Remember that each group you meet with is unique so make sure that you collaborate to create the best Full Value Contract for your team.3. Appoint a Facilitator
This is the one that gets most people to do a double take. Appoint a facilitator? Isn’t it the boss’s job to do that? That may be true at many average companies, but the great companies rotate their meeting facilitators. Why? It allows the manager to take their turn listening and being a collaborative part of the team. Instead of traversing all of the things a facilitator needs to do to run a meeting - like keeping people from going off on tangents - she can focus on the issues at hand and concentrate on solving the problems. If your manager is a great facilitator, you are already ahead of the game - just remember that it doesn’t always have to be her job. Unlocking the manager’s power to be a full participant in a meeting could be a minor major for your company’s execution in its meetings and help it meet its SuperGreen® criteria.4. Have a Focused Agenda
This is probably the most obvious of the six simple steps of how to run a meeting. Intrinsically, everybody knows that we should be meeting in regards to something other than setting up the next meeting; however in practice, we find that many meetings are run without an agenda. If you are running a meeting without purpose, you aren’t getting anywhere. A proper meeting agenda includes the clear objective(s) of the meeting, what is expected of the participants in the meeting, any deliverables that are due, and any resources required for the meeting. Rhythm Systems has weekly meeting agenda template that you can download and customize to your needs for your weekly staff meeting. Ensure that you have time to cover the most important topics by scheduling them at the beginning of the meeting when the energy is highest. Don’t forget to send the agenda out and any supporting documents at least twenty-four hours in advance to make sure that you have everyone aligned and on the same page. If you don’t send the agenda until an hour before the meeting, you might as well not send one at all!5. Emphasize the Dashboards
All companies should have easy-to-read dashboards that track their progress against company objectives. We find that many companies that come to us have no clear execution plan in place for how to achieve the goals they laid out in the strategic planning session. Even if they have solid strategic thinking, they don’t have a detailed execution plan in place to hold the team accountable while driving towards their goals. One of the key components of the execution plan is tracking progress with business dashboards. Many teams are using Excel-based KPI dashboards to track some of their activities, and that is a great start. However, we have found that many companies outgrow this method of tracking long before they actually make the decision to seek cloud-based alternatives for improved collaboration and execution. If you think you might have outgrown Excel, please read the article and see if it makes sense to start exploring alternatives.
Your dashboard should have clear success criteria outlined so that everybody knows quickly and easily if you are on target for success or need to make adjustments in order to achieve your goal. When discussing these metrics, keep in mind that all discussion should revolve around what the team needs to do in order to achieve success, not bashing the name associated with the metric. If the metric is off course, the discussion is around solutions and not blaming the individual bringing the problem to the group’s attention to solve.6. Close the Meeting
At the end of every meeting, there needs to be a clear statement of the next steps, due dates, and who is accountable to make sure they are accomplished. If there is any confusion regarding next steps, the participants can use this time for clarification or reach out for additional resources or help needed from the team in order to achieve their goal. If any important decisions were made during the meeting, they should be summarized to ensure complete alignment with team members. Please keep in mind that these decisions might involve communication to other team members that aren’t attending the meeting. The results of the action items discussed here will be used to hold team members accountable next week. Putting a bow on the meeting is essential to make sure that the team is completely aligned and everyone knows what is expected of them to help the team achieve success.
It is important to keep in mind that there are several different types of meetings. A formal board meeting shouldn’t be run the same way as a weekly staff meeting, but these six simple steps to run a meeting should be beneficial for just about any type of business meeting that you have. I hope that all of you make the investment in improving your team by learning from the meeting experts to help you run a better meeting. If you have any additional tips or tricks that your team uses, I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Additional Rhythm Systems Meeting Resources:
Consider using Rhythm Software to run your weekly meeting, where the status and agenda are automatically created every week to keep you on track!
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images