I have tried to avoid meetings as much as possible. My thinking stems from an article I was shown in the late 70s from the Harvard Business Review of 1939 that stated, “If you have more than two meetings a month, you will go out of business.”
That statement was fanciful then and even more so now. Except, I have seen the elimination of meetings work wonders for companies.
All the companies I have been involved with were encouraged to eliminate 10 – 20 percent of their meetings every month on an ongoing basis.
I believe 75 – 80 percent of meetings can be handled by sending around a document to the folks involved and ask them to send back comments in a timely manner. If a meeting is really needed the same process is followed:
“Here is the issue we need resolved, outlined in the attached document, please return your comments by (Insert defined time) and be prepared to discuss them in a short meeting. It starts at (Defined time and date) – we will spend 15 minutes on this.
And if you do need a meeting here are some “must-dos!”
1 – Set a clear objective to the meeting. Don’t be vague. Set an agenda and make sure all the participants agree to the agenda. If it needs to be adjusted – do it!
2 – Invite only those people who need to be there. The worst thing is being called to a meeting and wondering why you are there?
3 – Set a strict timeline – who speaks and for how long. Also, make sure you can control any dominant personality types who tend to take over and prevent everyone from contributing.
4 – Time is money. A meeting starts on time and ends on time. A rule of thumb I have always followed is that when a meeting starts no one is allowed in after the starting time. If your meetings start late and you allow stragglers you are letting folks know the meeting is not important.
5 – Ban all phones, iPads or laptops. It is a meeting. Pay attention.
6- Take notes. And send out meeting notes after the meeting. Always encourage folks to collaborate on the notes.
7 – Always set a “Next step.” Who’s is responsible for what, by when and reporting to whom?
Listen, I am all for collaboration and teamwork, but being collaborative and working in a team is not the same as holding a meeting to discuss every decision to make or direction to take. Or as I have heard said … “Here I am in this meeting talking about all the stuff I should be doing if it weren’t for me being in this meeting!”