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What to do if you are drowning in meetings
June 21, 2011

Hello and welcome to this week's short time management tip.

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Time Management Tip

What to do if you are drowning in meetings

Most of our clients tell us they are drowning in meetings. You know, one meeting after another. Most of them boring. No time to do 'real work'. HELP please, written all over their face!

Recently I saw this book Death by Meeting, by Patrick Lencioni.

Could this have an answer to help my drowning clients?! But it is not about what I thought it would be. The author, Patrick Lencioni, suggests having more meetings not less!

In the book he talks about a business dying because of poor meetings, not about an individual being swamped by meetings and therefore being ineffective. He says in some meetings we should not have a predetermined agenda and some meetings should have a flexible end point.

Yet, by the end of the book I thought - maybe he is right!

Do your meetings start late and/or finish late? Do your meetings have the same agenda every week? Do some important topics get little time (or no time) and are rolled over to the next meeting?

Are the meetings often boring? Do people in the meeting clearly know what the purpose of the meeting is? When the meeting is finished do you know what to do next, and by when?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, welcome to the club - most organizations have these issues.
So how could more meetings, no agenda and flexible timing help you from
drowning?

The typical techniques for making meetings more effective are:

  • Distribute the Agenda before the meeting,
  • Clearly define the purpose of the meeting and reconfirm this at the start of the meeting
  • Start on time,
  • End on time,
  • Keep to the agenda,
  • Document action steps before the end of the meeting

I have observed that people running regular meetings, like weekly staff meetings, have lots of trouble following the above points. It is usually easier to follow the above process for a meeting on a specific topic or short project.

Once meetings become regular or lack a clear specific topic, they become boring, a waste of time, confusing and they start to kill your team and your business.

Boring, ineffective meetings kill your people's motivation and enthusiasm. They cause people to doubt the leaders' ability to achieve the team purpose. People get frustrated and disappointed.

So, how can more meetings, no agenda and flexible timing help?

Well they are all related to two key points. Context and Drama. Effective meetings have a clear context. Exciting meetings have drama.

Context is about the overall structure of a meeting.

Lencioni suggests four types. Short update meetings daily 5 minutes maximum. Weekly tactical meetings, Monthly strategic meetings. Quarterly reviews.

The KEY is that each meeting must stay within it's own context. Weekly tactical meetings do not include strategic topics or discussions. Monthly strategic meetings don't have short term updates or tactical topics.

I had to change my mindset - and when I did WOW!

Once I looked at meetings differently I saw how I was already using this framework in my coaching model. Context in a coaching session is crucial. Meetings are the same.

When you change your mindset and make sure you stay in context for your meeting, your meeting effectiveness will increase dramatically.

And then there is the drama. Drama stops meetings from being boring. But that is too important to squash into a few lines here so look out for all the drama in next month's newsletter!

What would it take to make your meetings fun, exciting and effective. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you confuse tactical and strategic items in your meetings (if you are not sure, then you do!)
  • In meetings do people agree just to get the meeting over quickly?
  • What makes a meeting boring?
  • What would it take for your people to leave a meeting excited?

Let me know what impact these ideas have on your meetings!

Have the time of your life this week.

Michael

Michael Erwin http://www.time-management-central.net

Get the #1 Secret to Cut 6.5hrs Off Your Work Week and Get a Pay Rise at the Same Time!

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