For many of us, working life seems like an endless sequence of meetings, some effective but many of dubious benefit. In a recent survey reported in Industry Week, 2000 managers claimed that at least 39% of their time spent in meetings were a waste of time. Are your meetings a waste of time? Do they take too long? Do you feel that nothing comes out of your meetings?
Effective meetings are those where:
- There were clear statements of the objective or task to be addressed.
- Participants provided various perspectives on the task
- Comments were directed towards potential solutions
- Team members were able express personal responsibility for action
- Leaders (or facilitators) kept the meeting focused
That all sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it. So why do we struggle to get effective outcomes?
Below are my top 5 reasons based on personal observations in corporate and business environments over the past 30 years:
- Too many meetings are done ‘on the run’ without sufficient preparation. If there’s a fast decision to be made and it’s simply a matter of getting agreement, this may be fine. But if not, we should slow down and think before we call another meeting.
- We don’t give sufficient attention to the value of effective facilitation. As leaders and managers, how many of us have had formal training in facilitation skills? There’s no real excuse, as there are plenty of courses to choose between (in fact, we’ll be running a course shortly, see below).
- We don’t often put sufficient effort into preparing agendas and circulating discussion material before meetings for consideration. And we fail to do this with both our people and our clients. Again, if the meeting is important enough, why do we hide behind the excuse ‘I was just too busy?’
- Meetings are often driven by dominant personalities, however I’ve seen time and time again that it’s often the quieter or more junior managers of the team who have the real insights. We need to learn how to draw out their insights and opinions.
- Sometimes, we simply don’t need a meeting. Whilst consensus is good, sometimes decisions should just be made by the people responsible, without going to the effort of getting agreement. Do we trust our people to make the right day to day decisions?
If you’d like some practical tips and hints on how to run better meetings, attend our online program ‘7 Steps to Effective and Productive Meetings,’ specifically designed for accounting firms.
In this practical 2 part program, we’ll show you how to facilitate and participate in more effective meetings. Among other things, you’ll learn answers to the following questions:
- What are the 5 most common meeting mistakes and how can I avoid them?
- What are the 2 reasons to hold meetings and why are both important?
- What are the keys to running meetings that actually lead to results?
- How can I make meetings more efficient, useful and even fun?
We’ll also take you through the 7 most common meetings for accounting and advisory firms and provide a step by step guide to making them more effective.