Make your meetings more successful
Meetings make up a substantial part of many jobs—especially for those in leadership.
Meetings are often dismissed as a waste of time, but meetings that have a clear purpose and are well run can actually make things go more smoothly and save time.
And what happens after those meetings is just as important.
Below are the three things I recommend you do before adjourning any meeting:
Confirm key decisions. Make sure everyone is on the same page about any decisions that were made. It’s important that everyone comes away with a shared understanding, because it will help focus everyone to move in the same direction. You can ensure this by putting two quick questions to the group:
- What topics did we discuss?
- What decisions did we confirm?
Agree upon next action steps. Have everyone agree upon next steps and what actions will be taken. Make it clear that you expect each step to be fulfilled as agreed upon, and that any changes or unforeseen obstacles need to be discussed as soon as they emerge. Ask the group these questions related to next steps:
- What was agreed upon for next steps?
- What are the deadlines?
Create commitments. Be clear about the commitments and responsibilities that are made during the meeting so you can follow up by sending everyone involved a communication about the key objectives and actions items. The goal is for everyone to commit to accomplishing their tasks on schedule. Make sure to assign someone to check in at appropriate intervals to ensure that the commitments are being kept and, when necessary, re-evaluated in light of unexpected issues. These three questions ensure that commitments are understood:
- Who is responsible for what?
- How will we communicate this information?
- Who will conduct follow-up?
One of the biggest complaints I have from leaders is that they spend much too much time in meetings, leaving them with less time to do their jobs. But I’ve seen firsthand that a good system for meetings can limit distractions and keep everyone focused on what needs to get done so you get the results you want.
Lead from within: Meetings happen whether we want them or not. It is what we do in our meetings that makes a difference, and with a smarter approach to meetings you can be an even smarter leader.