Leaders spend between 65 and 85% of their time at meetings, quite rightly, getting results through and with their teams.
There’s continual criticism about the amount of time people spend at meetings …. I’m not one of those critics. Leaders play so many roles at meetings, listening, informing, reframing, disseminating and testing ideas. Teams at meetings contribute through their risk analysis - is this practical or not? Will it work? As well as providing expert and specialist advice to leaders. So why would we reduce the number of meetings.
We need to Make Meetings Matter through more effective and efficient use of people’s time at meetings. We need to engage the expert thinkers and reduce the noise.
In this series of Blogs I’ll share what the CEs and Leaders that I’ve observed, do that works.
Warm Up To Meetings
You wouldn’t run a marathon without warming up. Yet we move from meeting to meeting without preparing our brains for the different situations or outcomes. So why spend hours at meetings without a warm up. My research shows that leaders who spent a few minutes preparing themselves and the meeting participants for the task ahead, achieve more effective and efficient results.
The People – Ask. Do we have the right people at this meeting? How will we keep absent members informed about what we decide or discuss?
Warm up to the task. What story, quotation, question or practical exercise could you use to warm up the thinking muscles to the task ahead? Is the task a creative or analytical one? A problem solving exercise or a team building one. Each requires a different warm up - get creative.
The Purpose – Ask. What’s the outcome we want to achieve for each agenda item? Are there differing agendas? How will we meet them? Have we created the right environment to achieve the task – video clips/good space/visuals/prompts/opportunities to stand and sit? Enough light and fresh air (people can go into a jetlagged state if they don’t get enough natural light at meetings).
Questioning. Are we asking the best most strategic question?
The Process – Invite. Invite people to connect with each other before getting into the detail of the meeting. Ask them to flag when they’re changing roles : this is my critical considered opinion; these are the risks; I’m brainstorming outloud – these are unfiltered ideas; I’m concluding now; can we explore more before judging etc.
Leaders can no longer chair meetings they need to facilitate people’s engagement and learning at meetings. They have to demonstrate their humour and humanity. Meetings can be fun, useful and learning occasions for all involved. Often the more serious the subject matter the more important it is to lighten the load.
Given the amount of time spent at meetings – if leaders – thought – people and specialist leaders don’t lead at meetings – when the hell do they lead?