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Leaders Letter 20 – Optimise Your Meetings

Optimise Your Meetings

19/10/2020

Dear Leaders,

Leaders, Something I am a stickler for is meetings, specifically making meetings work.  

Meetings and meeting culture are killing businesses.
I repeat they are killing businesses inside out!

There are many businesses that allow bad meetings to impact their culture and company performance and do nothing to change this.  There is something called MRS, it stands for: Meeting Recovery Syndrome.
And yes, it is actually a thing and it is proven it takes time to cool down post-meeting.

I HATE bad meetings, I am famous for saying how expensive is this meeting, to ensure meetings have actionable and directing agendas, to infamously stopping bad meetings when we are getting nowhere.

Something else that grates me, people voicing their opinions to be heard or agreeing and explaining their why for agreeing without a prompt is a waste of time, money and collective effort.

Coaching and aiding bad meetings hosts is an essential part of being a good leader in my honest opinion. It is not that I was conditioned in finance, meetings = money, money has to = progress and sales. We are never taught that meetings are the biggest time drain and one of the highest costs within businesses.

Are we conditioned from our early careers?
At the start of your career, you take every meeting because you want to be involved and want to be seen and then eventually heard by the room asking for your opinion.
By the middle of your career, you are conditioned into thinking meetings = progress, truth is they rarely do.

Optimise Your Time
We are never taught to improve or optimise meetings, this is a huge failure for company culture and impacts company performance daily. Some managers suggest they are in 30 hours of meetings per week, that is 75% of your working week in meetings, away from doing work or positively influencing the business.

A grumpy HiPPO in a meeting leads to hours of anxiety, panic and MRS. Be proactive and focus on making meetings better! So, here are 3 meeting tips for you to apply to your meetings or across your business:

Change Default Times: Why are meeting defaults 1 hour? Outlook and then Gmail! Change the default times.
Time Change 1: As there is no timing allowance between meetings. Change the meeting start time from 10.00 to 10.10.
Time Change 2: Change defaults from 30 minutes to 25 minutes and 60 minutes to 50 minutes.
Why? Shorter meetings get more decisions made and more quickly. As a bonus, you are respecting people’s time and energy for the day.  

Silent Brainstorms: It levels the playing field and produces better brainstorms. They are 2x more effective. Why? Provides access to the floor for everyone. People bring their best selves and stop playing up for the boss and agreeing with their idea or decision. Crazy eights work particularly well with this methodology.

Silent Start – Silent Ending: Start meetings with memos so everyone can start reading the same information. As a realist, you are never going to get all attendees to read the information before the meeting. With the hybrid office taking over, creating a meeting memo’s should be a tool in your arsenal.
If the meeting is for updates have an open document where people update together at the same time.

Meeting feedback comes in many ways but if you want actionable feedback, create a meeting feedback section on your meeting notes and ask for feedback. Great for introverts, ambiverts and introverts and creates important feedback loops.  

+ Bonus:
I love an agenda, it sets up attendees for what to expect, it generally also only applies for the meeting organiser, not the attendees. Always have a well-thought agenda with a question that has to be answered within that meeting, question yourself on why you invited these people to the meeting, was it to inform them or was it for their input.
Always have someone who “chairs the meeting” their responsibilities including take the notes, sticking to answering the question we suggested had to be answered and send around the meeting minutes with who is responsible to deliver the agreed and required actions. Yes, this sounds idealistic but without these steps, almost all meetings fail.

Remember: No agenda should mean no meeting. Set the example from the top and educate those on why and how. This week focus on improving your business by improving meetings. There are likely thousands of £/$’s wasted every hour by having rubbish meetings.

Thanks and have a good week, Danny

PS Don’t miss the what company culture is post, it’s a must-read for anyone in leadership, management or HR

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