How Can Managers Make Meetings Better?

Meetings don't have to be a waste of everyone's time
Meetings don’t have to be a waste of everyone’s time
Image Credit: Rikard Wallin

One of the least desirable parts of being a manager is the number of meetings that we find ourselves attending. In fact, there seem to be some days that are just back-to-back meetings that never seem to end. While we are in these meetings it’s pretty common for a manager to wish that they were just about any other place. It turns out that meetings are important ways for information to get shared within a company. However, it sure seems that a lot of the meetings that we find ourselves attending despite our manager skills are a complete waste of our time. Isn’t there a better way to do these things?

Set The Stage For Your Next Meeting

The good news for managers is that it turns out that by simply changing a few of the rules that we use to hold meeting we can have a big impact on how people feel about our meetings, what they do while they are there, and the final results of what they take away from our meetings.

It turns out that how a meeting is going to turn out can be set long before the meeting actually happens. One of the simplest ways to go about doing this is by giving the meeting a brand new name. When you do this, both the language and the tone that you use to name the meeting will provide the people who will be attending clues as to what will happen during the meeting. If you have special expectations of the people who will be attending the meeting (like making a decision), then you are going to have to let them know what you are thinking before they show up for the meeting.

Ensure That Everyone Is Both Seen And Heard

How many times have you come to a meeting that, at the appointed time, just started? That is the way that most meeting seem to operate and it turns out that when this happens, an important opportunity is being missed. If you are the person who is running the meeting our manager training tells us that you need to have a goal. You have to make sure that everyone who is in attendance at the meeting will be both acknowledged as being there and will be heard during the meeting.

What managers need to do is to take steps before a meeting starts to ensure that everyone knows who is attending the meeting. This means that you take the time to give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and tell what they do for the company. Think of this as a form of team building. What you want to do is to clearly communicate that everyone who is attending the meeting should be there. You are going to want to make sure that everyone has a chance to address the meeting early on in the proceedings.

Rules Make A Meeting Run Better

In order to make your next meeting run better, you need to establish some meeting rules right off the bat. Don’t think of these rules like the other rules that are currently in your life (don’t run with scissors, don’t eat too much, don’t drive too fast, etc.) Instead, think of them as being both amusing and creative. The goal of creating these rules is to change how the people who are attending the meeting interact with each other and the results that they can create.

One of the best types of rules to put into place has to do with people who leave the meeting while it is going on. It is all too common for people to leave a meeting to make a call or to check on some email. Since this is disruptive to the meeting both when they leave and when they return, you really want to minimize how much of this happens. Creating a rule that states that anyone who leaves the meeting has to do 10 jumping jacks when they return will quickly teach everyone that it’s probably not worth it to go do whatever they were planning on doing.

What All Of This Means For You

As managers we understand that meetings are critical tool that can be used to effectively share information with a group of people. However, all too often we’ll find ourselves trapped in a seemingly endless procession of meetings that feel like they are just wasting our time. As managers we need to find a way to make the meetings that we are attending better than they currently are.

In order to improve the meetings that we are attending, the first step is to make sure that you set the stage for the meeting to be a success. The way that you do this is by giving the meeting a unique name and letting everyone know if you have special expectations for what will be accomplished during the meeting. If you are running the meeting, you need to make sure that everyone who is attending the meeting will be both seen and heard. In order to ensure that everyone remains invested in the meeting you can establish creative rules that make people less likely to engage in disruptive behavior.

Meetings will continue to be a part of our lives. They are just too valuable when it comes to sharing information and making decisions. As managers it is our responsibility to take the boring meetings that we are currently attending and transform them into sessions that are actually a good use of everyone’s time. It turns out that by making a few simple changes we can get everyone involved and by doing this we can ensure that we can reach conclusions faster and get better commitment to execute plans once the meeting is over.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that a meeting should run for?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So let’s face it – firing a team member is never an easy thing for a manager to do. You hired this person, you’ve worked with them, and you’ve attempted to correct anything that they were doing wrong, but now it’s reached the so-called “end of the road” and you find yourself in a position where you need use your manager skills to let them go. No manager comes into work early on days like this. However, in our current day and age the newspapers are full of articles about fired workers turning violent or causing conflict. What’s the right way to let someone go?

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