Why Are Meetings so Important and How to Make them Effective and Fun

Premise:

Not a day goes by when I dont hear someone complain about yet another meeting that they need to attend and how it is such a waste of time, money and effort.

Yet, there is enough written about the way Alan Mulally, the ex-CEO of Ford, turned around the company in his stint as the CEO, primarily using a weekly cadence meeting with his entire leadership team , called The Business Plan Review. You can read more about this and how he ran these meetings here.

What he has shown is that meetings can be extremely productive for organisations and have the potential to even transform an organisation. So, if we think our meetings are not effective, it is the way we run these meetings that is the problem.

Meetings Are Reflections of the Culture

Also, I believe that the way we run our meetings is reflective of the culture of our organisation. If we think that our meetings are not effective, that reflects on the culture of our organisation. Ineffective meetings are the symptom of a much deeper cultural issues within an organisation. Just as meetings offer a peak into the functioning culture of an organisation, they also offer a way to transform that culture by transforming the way meetings are run.   

I recently read “Read this before our Next Meeting” written by Al Pittampalli. In the book, Al talks about 7 principles of Modern meetings: 

The Modern meeting

supports a decision that has already been made.

moves fast and ends on schedule.

limits the number of attendees.

rejects the unprepared.

produces committed action plans.

refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.

works on alongside a culture of brainstorming.

Issues with Meetings

In my opinion, there are two issues with meetings – They are boring and they lack accountability. 

Meetings are Boring:

Most meetings are boring because they follow the same pattern. There is no clear agenda or preparation behind the meeting. The responsibility of preparation rests with both the host and the guests of the meeting.

The host of the meeting, the one who calls for the meeting, is responsible for:

  1. The host should have a clearly defined purpose for the meeting, shared with all the participants.
  2. The host should prepare all the background information that is needed ahead of time and shared the same with his guests.
  3. The host is responsible for driving the meeting and achieving the result that he/she expected from the meeting.
  4. A meeting is the scheduled as a last resort. The host has to first explore if the purpose can be achieved either by an email discussion, an online poll, a survey, 1-1 meetings or a combination of these. As this is the last resort, this needs to work and it is the responsibility of the host to make this work.
  5. It is the responsibility of the host to ensure that only and all relevant people are participating in the meeting. 

If we are invited to attend a meeting, it is our responsibility to:

  1. Read all background material that has already been shared and come prepared based on the purpose of the meeting. We should not attend a meeting, if we are not prepared for it.
  2. If we don’t get all the background material for preparation, we should not attend the meeting.
  3. Be on time and be prepared. Be present in the meeting and offer our full support to the host in achieving the purpose for which the meeting was called for.

Meetings lack Accountability:

Any meeting that doesn’t enforce accountability on all the participants of the meeting is bound to be ineffective. It is the role of the host to ensure that everyone in the meeting is held accountable for their part in the meeting and the actions that come out of the meeting.

Most meetings are convened to

– either decide on something,

– discuss on a decision already made,

– debate about a specific situation or

– Assign roles and responsibilities

It is the role of the host to ensure that roles are defined and agreed upon before or at least at the start of the meeting.

Roles in a meeting – Scribe and a TaskMaster

We need a scribe (who makes notes) and a task master (who makes a note of all the action that someone has either volunteered to do, has been assigned to do or has to get done). Having the second role ensures that there is nothing that gets missed. It is then the role of the host to circulate these notes and the tasks to the relevant people and the role of the task master to ensure that everyone who has some action that they need to do know what it is and by when it is due.

Post Meeting follow-up

The role of the host doesn’t end with the meeting. It is the responsibility of the host to ensure that every deliverable and action that was committed in the meeting is actually completed in the time frame that was agreed upon. In case, this is not the case, it is the responsibility of the host to escalate this with the right people until the action is completed.

In conclusion:

As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our meetings are not only effective but also reflect the kind of culture we want in our teams.

If we want a culture of experimentation, our meetings need to reflect that. Click To Tweet

If we want a culture of accountability, our meetings need to reflect that. Click To Tweet

If we want a culture of fun and community, our meetings need to reflect that. Click To Tweet

Zetland magazine starts every team meeting with community singing. They even started their customer event with a song. In this blog post Stephanie Vozza, shares some examples of how teams are making their meetings interesting, effective and fun, all at the same time. 

As we can see, meetings are a great way to define the kind of culture we want to create in our organisation, while at the same time can serve as an effective way to move forward.

Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time or suck energy out of all the participants.  

So what do your meetings tell you about your culture? Click To Tweet

This post was inspired by a post on the David Guerin Blog.

Best Among What I Read today – 4th May 2016

Best of What I read Today

I read a lot and on diverse topics. I used to share all the interesting stuff on Twitter and Facebook, but realised that searching for them at a later point (in case someone wants to find out more or I want to connect with someone) became extremely difficult.

Also, my friends said that it is easier for them if they can find all the interesting stuff that i find in one place so that they can visit one single post and decide to read something that they find interesting as well.

Hence, going forward, on days that i read and find interesting articles, blog posts, books, podcasts and any other piece of content, i will share them in a blog post titled – “Best Among What I Read Today” and publish on my blog.

Here is today’s content that i found interesting. You can look at all the past posts here.

A cardboard House

Wikkelhouse is a house made of cardboard, which can last upto a 100 years and installed in a day.

IBM Inches Ahead of Google in Race for Quantum Computing Power

IBM recently launched a website today with an interface that lets outside programmers and researchers test algorithms on their quantum computing chip.

They at the same time admit that a universal quantum computer might not be a reality anytime soon. More about this @ here.

World’s first 3D-printed consumer wheelchair

go-layer-design-materialise-3d-printing-wheelchair-clerkenwell-design-week-2016_dezeen_936_2

This 3D printed consumer wheelchair customises the seat and the foot part of the wheelchair, which are the most important from a comfort point-of-view in a wheelchair, using biometrics and then 3D prints the chair.

The studio has also developed an app to accompany the wheelchair, which allows users to specify optional elements and colours apart from the size specifications. Once the wheelchair has been designed and ordered via the app, it could be delivered in under two weeks. More information about this @ here.

Because We Can

Bernadette Jiwa shares the story of a tram driver and how he makes 100’s and 1000’s of people smile everyday. Read the full story here.

Why?

Because he can..

So, can we!

5 ways that meetings typically go off track & how to stop it

One activity that is constant in every working professional’s life is that they need to organise or attend meetings. Most meetings are time killers and there is a ton of research to help you make the most of the meetings that you are a part of.

In this post, Roger Schwarz shares 5 typical ways that meetings go off track and also gives ideas about how to prevent that from happening. You can read the entire post here.

Another great resource on this topic is a book called “Read this before your next meeting” by Al Pittampalli.

 

Effective sales review meetings

All sales managers hold fortnightly or monthly or quarterly sales review meetings. How managers use these meetings talks a lot about their leadership skills.

Does your team look forward to these review meetings or dread them? Do they think it adds value to them or is it looked as a necessary evil?

I think sales managers can use these review meetings to do the following:

  1. Identify any good wins and celebrate them.
  2. Facilitate learning from deals won/lost.  
  3. Gauge the motivation level in the team and pep the team up.
  4. Discuss the sales numbers (target v/s actual), current pipeline health check.
  5. Identify the folks who need help in achieving their numbers. Sit down with them post the review meeting to understand the situation and guide them (one-on-one).  
All this is possible if the sales manager collects all the information prior to the meeting, spend some time going over the same and come prepared for the review meeting.

This is a big shift from the current method of conducting sales review meetings but will ensure that the sales manager not just manages the sales team but leads them and become a training ground for future sales managers. 

Meetings, meetings and more meetings

We all have been through a lot of meetings and know that a lot of these meetings are

  1. Mis-managed
  2. Kill time
  3. Reduces organizational productivity
  4. Boring
Yet, we can’t do away with meetings completely as they are also required to do business.

There are many ideas to improve the effectiveness of these meetings. Seth Godin in his blog talks about Making meetings more expensive which will ensure that there are less of meetings and would be more productive.

Some un-conventional ideas to make meetings interesting and little more productive could be

  1. Have stand-up meetings. No place to sit down.
  2. No meeting room with space for more than 3 people. Any gathering of more than 3 people to happen in the open (cafeteria, someone’s desk, water cooler, etc)
  3. In big corporations, get people to pay (internal cross-charge) every time someone uses a meeting room and put an upper limit on the budget that can be utilized for this usage
Have you seen any un-conventional way that meetings can be made interesting or productive?