Monday, February 20, 2012

The End of Brain-Numbing Meetings

It is common for young leaders to report to me that their team meetings do not go well. In their hurry to get everything done, their team meetings become one more thing to check off on the proverbial list of things to do. The difficulty is that they cram everything plus the kitchen sink into these gatherings, resulting in a profound waste of time where people leave butt numb and brain dead.

When asked how they can change this situation, I always return to the same list of action steps.

First, start every meeting by asking about what is going right. This gives you, the leader, insight into what people think is “right” plus it changes the entire tone of the meeting. Starting positive is a good beginning.

Second, review the entire agenda with the group so they know what needs to get accomplished. This follows the philosophy of planning your work and then working your plan.

Third, stick to the agenda. Do not wander down unproductive side alleys. Lead the meeting.

Fourth, do not mix operational/tactical items with strategic agenda items in the same meeting. And if something comes up that ends up being strategic, save it for another meeting.

Fifth, given what has been discussed, end every meeting with a clear agreement on what are the next steps and who will do them by when.

Finally, if the meetings are still barely tolerable, I have encouraged many young leaders to read the following book: Lencioni, Patrick. Death by Meeting: a Leadership Fable . . .About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business (Jossey-Bass, 2004). To date, everyone of them who has done this has reported to me that it was worth the time and effort.

Brain-numbing meetings are a major waste of time, and few of us have ever experienced a very well run meeting. When we do, it is amazing. Realizing this simple fact, more senior leaders need to take charge and role model how a good meeting should run. This helps younger leaders grasp a new perspective.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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