It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s someone who won’t bore me to death and waste my time!
Ever had a meeting where y0u wanted to gnaw your arm off to get out of the room? How many meetings provide you with the necessary clarity to make serious progress afterwards?
Meetings are simultaneously loved by lackluster performers for their distractibilty and hated by A-players for the same reason. But meetings don’t have to be that way. For starters you can collect feedback from employees beforehand so that precious meeting time can be used to quickly make decisions and let people get back to work.
Read these 4 articles for unique perspectives on supercharging meetings, including sometimes getting rid of them altogether:
By Val Wright
Don’t have meetings. That’s right, half of them are unnecessary anyways. And the ones that are necessary require only half of the attendees. Take a look at your calendar for next week. Which meetings could you cancel, decline, or reduce the number of attendees for?
When Val worked for Rare Games Studio (acquired by Microsoft), there were never planned meetings. Stake-holders would huddle, make a decision and move on. Val offers several lessons for improving meetings:
1) Create clear instructions so people know how to behave (interrupt, disagree…etc…)
2) Get clear on the point of every meeting. If you are just sharing information, cancel it.
3) Get on the same page. This comes from Amazon’s playbook where everyone gets a document to read in silence once the meeting begins. The discussion begins page by page, questioning data, assumptions, and results.
By Lisa Evans
Lisa offers research that suggests humor can lead to better communication and innovation. Laughing has tremendous value for team bonding and boosting morale. In the referenced study, laughter was often followed by praise and positive statements that encouraged participation,“What do you think, Tom?” Laughter was also followed by positive statements that re-focused the team (“Let’s get back to our topic now”). Team members were then more creative and more likely to come up with new ideas, resulting in a more productive meeting overall.
Christina suggests some subtle behaviors to increase productivity in the 11 million meetings that will take place today alone:
1) Increase your testosterone on purpose by holding a different posture for a couple of minutes. For example, placing your hands behind your head when leaning back to be more risk tolerant and confident. For more on this, watch Amy Cuddy’s video below:
2) Dress for success. Research from a 1955 study showed that more people were more likely to follow a man crossing the street against traffic when he was wearing a suit. How we dress affects how we feel about ourselves and how influential we will be on others.
Some meetings can be shortened or cancelled, but regular meetings with direct reports can not be replaced by email or open door policies. Elizabeth, an experienced time coach, cautions that not taking the time for these meetings on the front-end means a ton of time wasted later.
For example, productivity can lapse when employees are confused or unclear about their priorities. Managers may then have to scramble to get team-wide projects completed close to the deadline.
By cancelling a structured time to meet with employees, they can constantly distract managers with an onslaught 0f emails. Some employees might linger outside a manager’s office in the hopes for a few seconds of face time.
In exchange for devoting a block of time for each report every week, managers can ask employees to update tracking documents and report on action items in advance. This results in employees thinking more critically and problem solving on their own. This process leaves one-on-one time for answering questions and strategic thinking instead of sharing status updates.
I didn’t coin the phrase “meeting hero”. It’s actually one of our team’s favorite apps, now called Worklife. I recommend using it to organize meetings and to make them far more productive. But even without using technology, I hope the advice provided herein will help you become a meeting hero at your company.
Historically, meetings provide an opportunity for employees to discover new ways of concealing social media usage while managers attempt to gather relevant information. Ideally though, meetings are a tool for debating the most critical issues and setting up a clear and decisive action plan. The choice is up to you.