The Importance Of Good Meetings
Leadership is about setting the tone – in the culture, in the office and in communication. One of the most critical aspects of communication in any organization is meetings. We all need them; we all have them and we all bemoan the proliferation of them.
During this pandemic, meetings have become more challenging because so many are taking place virtually. When meetings take place on Zoom or another platform, it becomes harder to assess people’s attention levels and interest. The person running the meeting needs to be attentive, committed and involved.
This past week I was conducting a leadership coaching session with a client and we were discussing her working relationship with her manager. I asked if they had regular meetings and she indicated that they met weekly. I asked how they determined the content of these meetings, and she said they both brought their own list of topics they wished to discuss.
I listened and asked if they ever shared items to discuss in advance. She said “No. We just bring our lists of issues with us”
I proceeded to talk about the value of creating meeting agendas ahead of time and sharing them with other meeting attendees, whether we are meeting only with our manager or ten people in our office.
Meetings are generally more effective when they include agendas. Why?
Agendas reflect that that the person running the meeting has thought about it ahead of time. However, agendas need not be constructed just by the person running the meeting. In my earlier career, I ran all our department meetings and disseminated the agenda as the meeting commenced. Gradually, I learned that meeting attendees also had issues they wished to discuss. So I started collecting agenda items from everyone several days in advance of the meeting.
Then, thanks to reading about and using Myers-Briggs, I learned that my introverted colleagues participated more meaningfully in meetings when the agenda was circulated at least one day in advance of the meeting.
Why? Introverts bring their best selves to meetings when they have time to think and reflect upon the issues to be discussed. Extroverts like me have no problem bringing our best selves to meetings when agendas are shared shortly before meetings or at the start of meetings.
However, leaders must always think about all teammates and how all of them can contribute to and benefit from meetings.
Of course, having an agenda only addresses the start of meetings. It is important to pay equal attention to the conclusion of meetings. Several tips to think about:
-Make sure someone is assigned to take notes at all meetings, even if the meeting involves only two people
-Share those notes with all relevant team members, especially those who are unable to attend
-At the meeting’s conclusion, review action items that were agreed to during the meeting – what will be done, who will do it, and by what date
-Disseminate the meeting notes to all attendees within 24 hours to make sure everyone possesses the same understanding of the meeting’s take-aways
-Encourage anyone who receives the notes to raise questions if they do not agree with anything or do not understand something
-Ask people to save agenda items for the next meeting as time passes so they will not forget to add them when the agenda item submission inquiry comes around
Please do not leave meetings to chance. Meetings can be valuable if they are planned with intention and executed with attention to detail and great listening skills.
Examine your meeting protocols and make improvements. That is part of good leadership.