Conducting Effective Meetings as a Manager – 4 Tips

Conducting Effective Meetings with all hands agreeing

Are Your Managers Good at Conducting Effective Meetings?
Conducting effective meetings is a fundamental management skill that has a direct impact on performance because people spend so much time in meetings.  According to recent research by Bain,

  • Organizations report spending more than 15% of their time in meetings
  • Middle management reports spending at least 35% of their time in meetings
  • Upper management reports spending more than 50% of their time in meetings

Unfortunately, employees from the frontline to the C-Suite complain about ineffective meetings.  8 in 10 executives are dissatisfied with both the efficiency and effectiveness of their company’s meetings and believe that a whopping two-thirds of the meetings they attend are unproductive.  And when you include virtual meetings, the meeting productivity, effectiveness and level of engagement decreases even further.  Conducting effective meetings matters.

Conducting Effective Meetings as a Manager
Something needs to be done to rescue time for employees and give them the opportunity to address their real jobs.  Removing ineffective meetings, especially ineffective recurring meetings, is one of the best ways to improve team productivity. Let’s start with the basics:

1. Ensure Meeting Relevance
While it seems like common sense to only hold or attend meetings that add value, we are consistently surprised by how many meetings take place that should just not happen. You should only hold or attend a meeting when there is a clear and meaningful objective, an agreed-upon agenda, and the right people in the meeting so that you do not detract from time spent on priorities. At a minimum, for a meeting to be relevant, it should have a clearly defined:

  • Purpose: Answers why the meeting has been called, identifies the type of meeting, and is used to decide whether the meeting should be held.
  • Desired Outcome(s): Describes the tangible results that you desire from the meeting.

Done right, improving meeting relevance should drastically pare down the number of meetings to only the most urgent and the most important.

2. Agree Upon the Type of Meeting
In general, there are six types of meetings. Before you hold or attend a meeting, make sure you identify and agree upon the type of meeting.

  • Information Sharing
  • Information Gathering
  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning
  • Training

Done right, clarity on the type of meeting will set the stage for appropriate outcomes and attendees.  For example, the outcome of a Decision Making meeting is action while the outcome of an Information Sharing is awareness.  While an Information Sharing meeting can have unlimited participants, 6-8 attendees is best for decision making.

3. Agree upon the Right Participants
Effective meetings look at three types of active meeting participants:

  • Those who are highly affected by the outcome of the meeting
  • Those who could influence the outcome of the meeting
  • Decision makers

Done right, having only the required attendees will save everyone time and frustration.

4. Agree upon the Right Meeting Roles
Effective meetings have four main roles that are played by one or a combination of people.

  • The Leader who is responsible for starting the meeting, participating in the meeting and following up on agreements
  • The Facilitator who facilitates the discussion and clarifies the decision makers and the decision making method but has little or no active meeting participation
  • The Recorder who captures key thoughts but has little or no active meeting participation
  • The Members who participate fully

Clear roles allow you to explicitly keep out attendees that do not have a role in the meeting.  Use other avenues to keep other stakeholders in the loop.  Unclear role clarity in meetings can increase frustration and decrease effectiveness.  Done right, having clearly defined roles will improve your meeting process and outcomes.

5. Invest the Time to Prepare
Once the meeting has been deemed necessary and important, pre-work can be an effective meeting strategy to encourage accountability and engagement. In addition to everyone having the objectives, agenda and attendee list ahead of time, we recommend including pre-work if it will help participants to hit the ground running so that the collective time together can be spent on deeper discussions and better decision making.

Done right, pre-work should improve focus and create a greater sense of urgency.

6. Make Meetings Accountable
Just as you are held accountable for your performance on the job, so should meetings be held accountable for holding to their stated purpose and timing. Never end a meeting without documenting what was accomplished, what was agreed to, what the next action steps are, and who is responsible.

Done right, improving accountability will make sure your meetings matter.

The Bottom Line
Conducting effective meetings re-captures the commitment of the attendees and re-gifts them with time that can be much more productively utilized.  You will know you are on the right track when everyone knows why a meeting has been called, there is explicit agreement on the tangible meeting outcomes, everyone is prepared, and action plans and accountabilities are clear.

To learn more about being an effective manager and conducting effective meetings, download 5 Management Misperceptions that Slip Up Too Many New Managers

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