Are Meetings Getting in the Way of Leading?

With a show of hands, how many of you are on overload with meetings ? I can see many hands being raised as I saw this past week in my leadership program. Meetings seem to be the new way of working in many organizations except they can also be one of the biggest time wasters. Some participants in my workshop even expressed that on some days they can be in meetings more than five or six hours. They continued to share that on those days they barely had enough hours left to do any work.I began the leadership skills program by asking: How would you rate the value of the meetings you attend? The responses were all over the place.“We need to have meetings to share project updates.”“Meetings are where we hear the future direction of our assignments.”“If it wasn’t for meetings we would never have a chance to connect face-to-face.”“Meetings are a necessary evil.”So if meetings are critical to our leadership and team success, then why do we have such a love-hate feeling about them? Maybe it has to do with how the meetings are run. Maybe we need a mindset shift from thinking of meetings as something bothersome to an important part of our leadership strategy .

Are Meetings Getting In The Way of Leading?

Yes, If They Have No Purpose

One of biggest reasons meetings fail is that they do not have a clearly stated purpose. Before rallying a group together it is essential to identify what the meeting will entail. Is the meeting about a status update, information sharing, problem solving or team building? Does the meeting have to take place at all? Leading an effective meeting begins with a clear purpose.

Yes, If There Isn’t A Concise Agenda

Creating a tight agenda that is circulated ahead of time will keep a meeting on target. Preparation is key. Additionally, reaching out to team members for input into the agenda will encourage participation and keep the meeting flowing. What should we include on the agenda?
  • Date and purpose of the meeting.
  • Topics and timing of the discussion of each.
  • Speakers who will present and their segments.
  • Follow-up and actions to be taken. This last item assures that everyone knows what they will be responsible for after the meeting.
  • Yes, If The Wrong People Are Invited

    Have you every wondered why you were included or excluded from a meeting? Before a leader invites people to a meeting make sure the individuals who have the facts and are actually part of the projects are there. And no need to invite extras. Before sending an invite leaders need to be thoughtful or the meeting may just be a waste.

    Yes, If They Are Poorly Facilitated

    Leading a meeting involves strong facilitation skills or else it may turn into a “free-for-all” session. Some of the ways to keep a meeting moving forward are:
  • Not allowing one team member to dominate the discussion.
  • Ask less extroverted people their ideas.
  • Have someone take notes rather than rely on memories.
  • If the discussion gets heated jump in and redirect the points.
  • Yes, If They Don’t Start And End On Time

    No ifs, ands or buts, start a meeting on time and bring it to a close when the time arrives. If we become known as respectful of our team member’s time, we will always have a good turnout at our meetings. The key to having team members attend our meetings is to start and end on time.

    Yes, If There Are No Clear Follow-Up Actions

    Finally remind yourself that in order for meetings not to get in the way of leading means having clarity on follow-up actions. Make sure to allow time for this important part of a meeting.
  • Assign tasks with timeframes.
  • Send out an email with follow-up decisions.
  • Thank everyone for attending and contributing.
  • What strategies and tips have prevented your meetings from getting in the way of leading?Related: To Be a Trustworthy Leader You Need This