I will admit that I hated staff meetings. They seemed to drone on and on, with long lists of information that I forgot as soon as I went back to my “real” work. I had more important work to do and the (required) meeting was taking up my time!
When I became a Leader, I found that I thought differently about meetings. I saw the meeting as a way of conveying information to my staff at one time. I thought that the meeting was time well spent. Until I realized that I was doing to them, creating same “talking head” leadership act that I hated when I was on the receiving end.
My amazing administrative team provided me with some hard, but true feedback about the meetings. Things needed to change; clarity about purpose, ways to give everyone space to speak and a better way to make decisions. Ouch. But... true. We worked to create a workplace that engaged staff in discussions and decisions. We wanted to create an open and respectful environment.
We restructured meetings to make them meaningful. Here are some visible actions that were taken:
Send out material in advance: People can read. Time in the meeting is better spent hearing other’s opinions and ideas, and answering questions about the material.
Get clear on decision-making. If I was gathering opinions and data, to inform decisions that I was going to make, I said so. If I was expecting discussion and a vote to make a decision, I was clear about it. Were we going to come to consensus? I was clear about this, and the process we would use.
Keep it short. As a colleague once told me, “No one complains when the meeting is shorter than expected.” I honoured time commitments. I began and ended on time!
Build leadership capacity. I was rarely the only speaker. Agendas created space for others to speak and bring topics to the agenda.
How do you make meetings meaningful? I welcome your comments and feedback.