Getting and keeping our meetings on track

In a new series I’m exploring ways that my new team can grow and change. The team is really fantastic – super capable, skilled, dedicated, and hard-working. As a CS group we can easily find our time eaten up with customer calls, user group meetings, and onboarding/implementation activities. Our meeting times need to be highly productive.

Intent

One of the great strengths of any team is the way its members share and work together. At their best, our meetings will amplify and enhance* the benefits of being together, while ensuring that they remain focused and effective for all.

Goals

In re-examining our meetings, we’ll seek to make some tweaks that achieve the following: * Run highly effective meetings * Building something of a consistent, predictable daily or weekly schedule * Ensure we don’t have a single, over-emphasised ‘meeting day’.

Leading effective meetings

Some things we’ll try this year include adopting the following guidelines:

  1. Be explicit about the goal/purpose: training? FYI? Decision?
  2. Be selective about attendees - protect the time of others but try not to exclude
  3. Pick the right duration: don’t do an hour where 15-30 minutes will suffice
  4. No agenda, no meeting
  5. Everyone comes prepared. Agenda posted 1 day before? Reading material?
  6. Look for ways to drive involvement from everyone. Collecting input before the meeting can help here.
  7. Be explicit in documenting actions/outcomes. We’ve met; so what now?

Building a regular daily and weekly schedule

The second priority is perhaps less important, but can be equally valuable.

A regular cadence ensures that valuable items are always covered. It should reduce the need for large numbers of ad-hoc meetings.

This is often a bit of a balancing act. If something is truly urgent it should happen straight away. Most things we consider ‘urgent’ are just considered this way because they’re in our heads right now. They can usually wait.

This is no doubt just a starting point. We’ll need to keep iterating and improving our practice, and I’ll try to reflect on those adjustments as we go.

Further reading

https://www.bustle.com/articles/148246-7-benefits-of-a-solid-daily-routine

  • Rogelberg (2019) Why Your Meetings Stink—and What to Do About It, HBR
  • Axtel (2019) The most productive meetings have fewer than 8 people, HBR
  • Hy (2017) How to structure your day better, Quartz