6 Tips to Make Meetings Matter and Keep Employees Engaged

Beware of the Hidden Costs of an Ineffective Meeting

How do you feel when your manager calls a meeting? Yes. We heard the groan from here. Meetings are, oftentimes, a big waste of time.

Jason Fried’s TED talk claims that the two things that most disrupt a work flow process are managers and meetings.

Consider a two-hour meeting with ten people. Basically, that’s twenty work hours you’re cutting into. Twenty precious work hours. Take out a calculator and add up how much an ineffective meeting can cost the organization. Now, multiply that number by X (how many times you meet with your team during the year). Now was that cost worth the meetings you called? This puts things into perspective.

In order to make meetings matter and get your team jazzed about them (okay, perhaps we exaggerate with “jazzed”), you have to make meetings matter. Meetings that are well planned can be productive and must be actionable. Here are 6 tips to make meetings matter.

1. Have specific goals for the meeting. Set an agenda. An agenda keeps the meeting focused. This provides a structure for all conversation. Don’t confuse “agenda” with “what’s on the agenda this week.” Everybody can read ahead of time for that. The agenda sets clear expectations for what needs to occur before, during, and after the meeting.

2. Start, and end, on time. There’s nothing more maddening than waiting on the stragglers. Respect your team’s time.

3. Make things actionable. It’s so common to leave with all these great ideas hanging in the air. Leave with an action plan, so that every team member knows exactly what is expected of her. The last few minutes of every meeting should be left to discuss “what’s next.” The action plan should be clear, have clear timelines, and each member should know what is expected of him or her.

4. Is everyone participating? The squeaky wheel often gets the grease. Do a quick round-robin, asking each member what they think is the most important thing for the team at this time, keeping it to 30 seconds or less. Write them down. Oftentimes, as managers, we miss some key things that matter because we’re looking at things from a different perspective.

5. This is not a grumble session. That’s just plain exhausting. If you have a team member who tends to go off and start pointing fingers, ranting, and wasting everyone’s time, especially when it has nothing to do with the agenda, you need to cut her short and get back on task. Be polite, but be firm. There’s an agenda to stick to.

6. We have to mention the cell phone distractors (again). Check all electronics at the door. There’s nothing ruder and more distracting than a co-worker chatting next to you. Team meetings should be moments to connect, creating community. This is hard to do when we’re scanning our favorite Hollywood star's Twitter feed.

Effective meetings can boost employee engagement and morale and not cut into the bottom line. Make meetings matter.

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