Make Your Meetings Matter
“We have too many meetings.”
“Our meetings are not effective.”
“Our meetings are full of boring status reporting.”
Sound familiar? If you’re like most of the leaders we work with, you’ve said one or all of these many, many times throughout your career.
Stop complaining! Think of your meetings like an athlete thinks of training for his sport. Anyone who has ever played a team sport knows that you have to practice together. As a rower, no amount of time that I, CrisMarie, spent rowing on an ergometer, lifting weights, and running was going to prepare me for a race. I needed time with my teammates in a boat on the water learning how to row together. We had to find our rhythm and learn to work with each other.
The same is true in business. No amount of time spent in your office or cubical designing your plan is going to change the business unless you consider your teammates’ insights, questions, and input. If you’ve hired smart, passionate people who are aligned around a collective goal, conflict should happen every time you gather around a table.
Meetings are where you get in the boat together. You make time for debate and discussion, and you use the energy of conflict to increase the team’s EQ (emotional intelligence) and IQ (intellectual intelligence). That only happens when the team talks together about the business and issues as they come up.
No Wonder Leaders Complain about Meetings
When Susan and I first chat with a leader, we ask, “How often does your team meet together?” We are amazed at how little time the team actually spends together.
Sometimes leaders try to manage the team through one-on-ones. Even scheduled team meetings are often canceled.
“We’ve got too much going on and too many other meetings,” they reply. “Plus, I have monthly one-on-ones with everyone.” They believe that one-on-one meetings or gathering in small subsets will keep things efficient.
Leaders assume that having one-on-ones will make their direct reports more effective at their jobs. While this may help a person in her individual area, it undermines and denies the importance and value of the team.
Teams that do meet together regularly usually do so weekly. When we ask how those meetings are going, they respond, “Well, everyone goes around and reports the status on their area. Actually, it can be pretty boring and not very engaging.” No wonder business leaders complain about their meetings!
The problem isn’t the meeting. The problem is the way the meeting is run.
Teams are a collection of diverse people. The benefit of a team is in the collective brainpower of an entire group. But if that group doesn’t interact or take time to learn and appreciate the power of the team, it’s like playing basketball with a team of great shooters who can’t pass the ball or run a play together.
Effective meetings are often uncomfortable, because tension develops as people throw out different ideas. Instead of status reporting (which we suggest saving for e-mail), discuss the important topics and let your best minds passionately figure out the solution. That puts you smack dab into conflict. And when you lean into that conflict, you get to the gold mine of innovative, creative, and profitable results. When meetings are done right, leaders will see the value of meetings and look forward to them.
P.S. Want simple, practical, and applicable tips for making your meetings more effective? Order our book: The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team’s Competitive Advantage now!
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke
Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict
CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.
They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.
Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.