"Sorry I'm late..."
"How was your weekend..."
"Did you hear what happened last week..."
"I have so many examples of this problem that I need to share with you..."
I've spent my professional life in meetings. That may sound a bit disheartening, or even sad. But the reality is meetings are vitally important if led well. I used to believe meetings needed to be managed well. That approach turned out to be misguided.
Meetings need to be led. If someone is trying to manage a meeting you can collect your things and leave, because they are failing miserably and no one wants to watch that happen.
It may sound simple, but when you attend a meeting do you know why you're there? Regardless of whether or not there is a printed agenda and a resource person with a stopwatch to frenetically scold you if you run over your allotted time by 30 seconds, good meetings need to be led differently.
Why are you sitting in the room when you could be executing on your company's strategy?
Understanding how you will specifically contribute to the meeting, either by sharing data, giving a status update, or to simply receive information you need to do your job, you must understand why you are there before you join the session.
All too often meetings are filled with noise and excess information that detracts from the pace of work that is necessary in high-performing organizations.
Several approaches that help keep meetings moving as rapidly as possible include:
1. Never be late. If you can not arrive on time text the leader and then be absolutely quiet when you join the group. If you are late on a consistent basis you clearly are not committed.
2. One example. Time and again I've heard example after example of a problem or a solution (and I've done this myself for years) - but it is a time killer. One example is enough.
3. Make decisions. The ultimate frustration about meetings is that decisions are not made at the end. Effective leaders make decisions and keep things moving. Sometimes those decisions will not be popular. So what? You're not getting paid to win a popularity contest, you're being paid to execute confidently and quickly.
How About You
When you step into your next meeting today, think about who's leading the session. Are they focused on executing corporate strategy? Are they making sure everyone has an opportunity to share five versions of the same problem before proclaiming "I'll take a look at that."
It's time to lead meetings differently. Stop trying to manage them, and do your job.
I'd love to hear from you.