Another Take on Meetings: The 5-Point Plan.

In our Reinvention Forum last week, Lisa Haneberg very succinctly described common feelings about a certain staple of the workplace with her haiku:

The Staff Meeting Haiku
Another Meeting
So bored, my heart’s stopped beating
Wake me when we’re done

Lisa followed this up with a great suggestion. If you missed her post, catch it here.

I have to tell you that while it is easy for me to remember scores of boring staff meetings, when it came to be my turn to run them and I learned to do them right, I loved ‘em.

Mostly because it was far easier to mobilize the troops in one meeting versus 8 to 10 individually held conversations, and it was a golden opportunity to make collaborative decisions versus arbitrary or dictatorial ones. When the expectation was clear that we were going to end the meeting having achieved a collaborative result, staff meetings ended up to be extremely useful and productive. They actually saved time.

The time I devoted to individual one-on-one meetings could then be highly focused and personalized. One-on-one meetings are for talent and strength coaching, for individual project delegation, and especially for the Daily Five Minutes.

In my coaching practice, executives do ask me for ideas on bringing new life to their regularly scheduled meetings, and these brainstorming conversations centered on their current focus and objectives turn out to be pretty energizing for both of us: They get excited about the possibilities of what can actually occur, and I’m able to get more of the clues I need in coaching them toward leadership breakthroughs specific to their business. Fun stuff.

Meetings are your opportunity to take advantage of having a captive audience, so just ask yourself, is that what do you? When you consider meetings your chance to reach agreements faster and with complete buy-in, you can amaze yourself with how creative and far-reaching you can get in their actual execution.

Business meetings are like all other business processes: They have to result in something if they are to prove useful, and worth the precious time of the people sitting in the room.

How can you ensure that every single meeting you hold is productive, and everyone looks forward to them as much as you do? (Okay, as I did and as you will.) By setting yourself up for success every time:

1. Prepare and plan them well. Meetings should be premeditated and result-oriented. As Stephen Covey said so well, “Begin with the end in mind.”

2. Don’t get so ambitious that you can’t walk out of the meeting with some definitive result. This is a 5-point plan, not 5 points on the agenda.

3. Keep meetings as short and as focused as possible. Concentrate the energy, don’t drain it. Increased meeting frequency may be better: Repeated zingers are far better than laborious operations.

4. Get everyone there to weigh in and participate in some way —if you don’t see that happening for certain people, don’t invite them. There must be a reason for them to be there: observing is not good enough. No bench warmers.

5. If the first four things are not virtually guaranteed, cancel the meeting.

Number 5. is probably the best advice I can give you. It must become part of your company culture that you only hold productive, result-targeted meetings, or not at all.

If these five points happen with every meeting you hold, there will be an entire new level of excellence in your group-think and in your team initiatives. More will be brought to the table because the effort is well worth it and contributions are valued. Potentially explosive ideas will no longer die unspoken.

Have a meeting. Get something done. Enjoy the experience.
All three phrases do belong together.

I love meetings.

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  1. says

    Great post. I found Lencioni’s Death By Meeting helpful in regard to staff meetings as well. Your suggestions complement his nicely. Thanks.

  2. says

    Aloha Rob, mahalo nui for your comment and for visiting Talking Story. I am very glad you liked the post.
    I’ve had a few of Patrick Lencioni’s books slip down the arbitrary priorities of my Amazon wishlist — perhaps it’s time for me to look them up again. Mahalo nui for the suggestion.
    Rob you have a great blog. Among other intrigues, this sentence in your post on the “Advantages of Anonymity” really drew me in to read with my Kona coffee in hand,
    “Because of this, I think blogs can bring the psychological principle of the ‘intimate stranger’ into play.”
    I’ll be back to read more! A hui hou,

  3. says

    I am following this advice, and I feel like my meetings are productive and helpful. Thanks for putting into words what every corporate manager should be doing, but generally isn’t in American business today.

  4. says

    Aloha Libercontrarian, thank you for visiting us here on Talking Story and for leaving your comment for me. I am very glad to hear that my own experience has proven to work well for you too.
    We can – and do – spend a considerable amount of time in meetings, and the possibilities of what can actually be accomplished in that amount of time is pretty mind-boggling. Meetings are one of those things a lot of people complain about when instead they should be part of the solution and simply not take it anymore. So I applaud your efforts and commend you.
    Please do stop by and visit with us again, my aloha to you,