At some point in your career you’ve probably attended, or led, a terrible meeting. One you dreaded going to or walked out wondering why you even had it. Don’t make your team feel this way.
Meetings are vital for business success – if you make them productive and consistent.
“If you only have meetings when there’s a problem, you’ll never be able to use them to generate great ideas,” says Bob Milligan, senior consultant, Dairy Strategies and professor emeritus, Cornell University. “The real purpose of meetings is progress, not damage control.”
Make sure everyone is on the same page about the purpose of the meeting.
“There’s always a reason not to have a meeting. There’s something that needs to be cleaned up, or something that needs to be treated. Be deliberate about it, set it and be serious about setting it,” says Jeremy Daubert, extension agent for Virginia Tech.
Here are six ways to keep your meetings effective.
1. Prepare ahead of time.
Spend as much time preparing as you would leading the meeting. An hour-long meeting should have an hour of prep time.
“If all you do is come back the next week and pick up where you left off the week before, you probably haven’t gained much,” Milligan says.
2. Make and stick to an agenda.
For each agenda item have an objective. Are you brainstorming, gathering feedback or finding a solution? Be deliberate with your expectations.
3. Stay on time.
No one wants to plan for an hour-long meeting and then walk out after three. Be mindful of everyone’s time.
“If you get to the end of your scheduled time and you’re really in the middle of something good, ask permission to continue. Don’t just do it.” Milligan recommends.
4. Include the correct people in the meeting.
If the idea generation or problem involves everyone on the farm, the whole team needs to attend.
“You don’t want the perception there’s three people on the farm meeting and talking about everyone else on the farm,” Daubert says.
5. Create an idea-friendly environment.
Meetings shouldn’t be a lecture. Create a space where your employees feel comfortable giving you feedback or sharing problems and ideas.
“As a manager you need to be open to feedback. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but as soon as you get worked up, the next time something happens, an employee might not tell you about it,” Daubert says.
6. Follow up afterward.
Send out the action items from the meeting. It doesn’t have to be a formal minute-by-minute record, but recap what was decided and what actions need to happen.
“Make sure everyone knows what’s going to happen, who’s going to do it and by when,” Milligan says. “And if someone couldn’t attend, then they’re still in the loop.”