Meetings: a micro snapshot of Team and Company Performance

Scary thought for many that their meetings might be a micro snapshot of their performance – as leaders, as a team, as a company. We’ve all left meetings thinking “Well, that’s an hour we’ll never get back.” Or perhaps worse “having meetings after the meeting” or “meetings before the next meeting” or the dreaded “meeting marathon”. The bureaucracy, politics and lack of clarity multiply themselves and lead to underperformance. 

If effectiveness of your meetings was the performance measure for your company, how would you rate yourself? How would an observer rate you? 

Without fail, there is a massive performance opportunity to improve meetings, which in turn enables the whole company’s performance. Put your meetings on a performance improvement plan so they start bringing energy and life to the company, not just sucking energy, time, and resources out of it. 

Here are some quick tips to improve meeting performance. I’ll go into these in more detail in future posts. 

Why – We need to know the Purpose + Ideal Outcomes we’re trying to achieve in the meeting.

  • We’ve all been in meetings where we wondered “Why am I here?”
  • Tip: People need to understand what the meeting is about, and what they’re aiming for in order to participate effectively. Use meetings to bring people together to have discussions to create the future. There should always be productive discussions (with opposing views and multiple ideas) decisions & action out of meetings. If people aren’t expected to participate and it is only “communication” to inform, perhaps use another medium – people can read. The “label” you give your meetings preps people for how they have to show up and participate – is it passive or active? Is the meeting a Monthly Review (of the past = passive) or a Go Forward where we create a springboard (for future results = active).

Who – We need to have the fewest number of the Ideal People, to get to those meeting outcomes.

  • We’ve all been in meetings where we thought “Someone else should be here, not me.”
  • Tip: The people invited can create the right meeting outcome – this might be from multiple teams, or multiple levels in the company. This isn’t about title “we need all the managers” or protectionism or defending of one’s position – it’s about performance. The fewer people you have, with the right know-how, the more productive your meeting. Under 8 is ideal, and research supports that smaller is better as long as you’re including the right people at the right time.

What – We need to know the Context + Topic we’re talking about and we’ve prepared to participate. 

  • We’ve all been in meetings where we wondered “What are we talking about?” 
  • Tip: People need to know why they specifically are there and what the meeting is about. Results can be used as a springboard and are great context for the meeting, to spend a few minutes using them for context, and using the bulk of the meeting to create what you want the future to look like and find actions toward that end. Instead of reading “last months results” in the meeting, send those ahead. Use the meeting time for ideation and finding actions to springboard to the future results. 

When – We need to have the Minimum amount of Time not the maximum, booked for this topic.

  • We’ve all been in meetings that could have been an email, or 15 minutes; not an hour. 
  • Tip: People stretch into whatever time is allocated (Parkinson’s Law). Make it the shortest possible. Also consider what would be the most productive time of day to have this particular discussion – if you need ideas or to have a difficult conversation to arrive at an outcome it is best earlier in the day when people are less depleted and brains and emotions are operating best. 

How – We need to know how we’re going to Connect and Move through this topic to arrive at the outcome. 

  • We’ve all been in meetings where nothing gets done and it’s on to the next recycled discussion round and round it goes. 
  • Tip: Have some structure so that you can accomplish the mission. This could be simply that you outline at the start, or in a meeting invite containing the purpose and intended outcomes. Structure to connect, set context and outcomes, discuss, and arrive at action items or experiments to move forward. Facilitate balanced participation – even if some participate silently in the chat or via sticky notes. 

More to come on this topic. 

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