The beginning of yet another great day. Yippee! Then, you glance at your calendar only for your stomach to drop as you peek at a potentially unproductive day with the majority of your schedule committed to meetings. You’ll be scurrying all day from one session to another. Or you’ll end one Zoom meeting as you search for the link to log on to the next one.
No doubt you can relate. It’s your life.
That’s because a middle-level manager spends about 35 percent of their time in meetings. Or perhaps, you’re in upper management where you spend a whopping 50 percent of your time in meetings? Yet, 71 percent of the executives find meetings unproductive as well as inefficient.
Ready for five transformation ideas?
It begins by digging deep with this question: In which meetings has my presence contributed to the discussion or made a difference to the outcome?
Why do this? Many women, despite not liking to attend meetings, simply show up as “good girls do” instead of leveraging their time. They actually believe attending will give them a promotion leg up.
Not so much.
Simply being present while sitting on the sideline doesn’t win you any points. However, the meetings where your leaders see the breadth of your decision-making, leadership strategic thinking, and where your acumen is revealed. These meetings are the ones that highlight you’re a force….one your company wants to groom for the future.
- Could you have added value if you came to the meeting with ideas or spoke up more? Were you silent out of insecurity? Then, commit to becoming a key player at every meeting you attend. It isn’t a matter of how often you speak. It is about the quality and content of your ideas.
- Is there someone you can delegate meetings to that, by attending, will improve their knowledge of the company or add needed skill sets for their future career development? Mentoring staff to higher levels of achievement is a much-vaunted leadership quality. How do you measure up?
- Begin introducing meeting efficiencies: start on time. When I say this one aloud, a memory instantly flashes through my mind that I chuckle over every time. One company had a culture that permitted everyone to drag into the meeting late. As the new leader, I announced that starting on time was now the rule. When straggling in by some still occurred, I stated that the doors would be locked moving forward. So, employees either were there at the beginning, or they missed out. It was amazing how fast a grudging cultural shift occurred.
- An additional tightening up tip, make sure you have an agenda with clearly defined objectives (exploration, discussion, decision, etc.). Set predetermined time limits for each item. Verify every attendee adds value (because their time is valuable too). If you’re invited to attend a meeting without an agenda. Think twice. Check with the initiator of the meeting “why” me… “why” this meeting? If no one can give you an answer, I would question attending. Another tip, is to proactively send off-purpose topics or discussions to the parking lot (if it’s worthy of a group discussion—schedule it for a future meeting) must are a waste of everyone’s time.
- Begin broaching the elimination of unproductive meetings. I know it is sensitive when you’re a mere attendee. Ensure there is understanding that your objective is to gain much-needed time not merely for you but for everyone to have time to work on larger, impact projects beneficial for your organization.
Well-run meetings are a precursor of leadership. Meetings provide an opportunity to build your muscle starting small as you shape your future.