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One of my favorite elements of the Harry Potter series was the next book or movie always picked up where the last one left off. It was one story, not 7 stories with the same title. There's a feeling of progression and completeness. So let's use that same type of connection to Lead Meetings that Don't Suck.
Most people in meetings are hoping they are somewhere else, like getting their "real work" done. Not only are terrible meetings painful to suffer through, they are bad for the bottom line as well. It's estimated that ineffective meetings cost organizations almost $40 Billion dollars every year.
What exacerbates the sucky meeting problem is the feeling that you are reliving groundhogs day. You go into one meeting after another and it feels like you and the team are still dealing with issues that were supposed to have been closed, dealt with, or done already. Somehow no one is making sure we aren't dealing with the same items over and over again.
This happens when you or the meeting leader don't start with follow-ups and end with the next steps. Again, simple like having a solid agenda. Your agenda isn't complete without follow-ups and next steps. This is how you track progress and keep your project and team on track.
Challenge & Promise
Here’s the Challenge: During this series, I will share at least 4 meeting hacks that will help you to lead meetings that don’t suck. After this short leadership coaching series, you will have the tools you need to lead meetings that are effective and engaging and get results.
The way you start your meeting will set the tone for the meeting. If you start late or just jump into today's crisis it's easy to forget to begin your meeting where your last meeting ended. You've sat in these meetings wondering if anyone was going to systematically address the action items from the last meeting.
Here are 4 ways you cause your team to disengage if you don't address last meeting's action items...
- You imply that progress and results aren't important.
- You discourage those who did make progress by not giving them a chance to share their progress.
- You encourage those who made no progress because now they know that there's no accountability.
- You confuse everyone because this meeting will seem disjointed from reality.
When you start with follow-ups you set the tone that this meeting is about making progress and moving forward. You put everyone on the accountability train. This does so much for your team's engagement.
- They come ready to talk about progress and obstacles.
- They understand that progress was supposed to be made.
- You have an opportunity to provide assistance to teammates who might be struggling.
- You show you are serious about deadlines, progress, and results, i.e. accountability.
Follow-ups are simple to implement and my coaching clients often see a marked improvement in their team's engagement, preparation, and participation in meetings
Just as important as beginning your meeting where the last meeting left off is ending the meeting with clear next steps. Have you ever walked out of a meeting wondering "what the heck and I supposed to do?" Yeah, you aren't alone.
Often the only person who's clear on next steps after a meeting is the leader. Let's fix that. And their clarity blinds them to the need to make sure everyone else in the meeting is clear on next steps.
This agenda item is also focused on accountability - helping your people succeed instead of waiting for them to fail. This doesn't have to take a long time, about 10 minutes should usually suffice depending on how big the agenda was. If you are still piling too much into your agendas, check out the first part of the series.
Ensuring next steps are actionable requires very little effort, but the results are going to blow you away.
- Take notes during the meeting of outcomes you expect and who you expect to do them.
- Read aloud the next steps that you captured.
- Ask the note-taker for the meeting if there were other next steps that you missed.
- As you are reading them, address the person that will be responsible for the outcomes.
- Ask them what they heard.
- Do this for every next step you have identified.
Remember, assume your team members don't know what is expected of them until they say the words themselves. So ask them and wait for them to answer.
What ideas do you have around making meetings not suck? Drop your comment below and don't forget to share this post if you got something out of it.
Until next time,
Make today count!