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5 ways for managers to lead successful & productive meetings

I am lucky because I really love my job. I can put my vision of a company in place. I manage great people who drive our company to tangible results.

My mentors said: “Get the meeting concluded even before it starts.” “Work the politics in the background just get everyone aligned with your agenda,” 

It took me years to get over the need to control the meeting and force my agenda. I have since learned that the people sitting in front of me can be the source of better, far more effective decisions. I have learned that the “meeting battle-field” is the best arena in which to optimize decisions if you can perfect your collaboration and communication capabilities.

So what is a “good or productive” meeting? The manual says that the meeting manager has to drive clear and concise decisions and consequent calls to action. But how do you do that?

You do it by defining clear objectives, getting the right folks in the meeting, (make sure they come prepared), allow people to express their thoughts, and document the meeting with minutes. Finally, the decisions made must be assigned to accountable people and deadlines. (And yes, try to stick to an hour…)

Furthermore, a successful meeting has to effect people, inspire new ideas and trigger new directions that were not there prior to spending an hour of your teams time.

All this advice sounds great but the key is in execution. So here are some practical tips I picked up and would like to share with you:

Data

 Get the right data in place to support your agenda and have the accountable person, the person who “owns” the data, present it.

  •      Being prepared for a meeting means coming up with the solid and reliable information to support      your argument
  •      It is better if this data is presented prior to the meeting so that arguments around its integrity         won’t appear during the meeting and become a distraction.
  •      Touch points related with the data reflecting other lines of business should be cleared out off-line     (again preferably before the actual meeting).
  •      Make sure the process is in place as things progress to connect the dots and present the data in        advance, and is available and transparent to all.                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Visuals 

Build dynamic meeting templates for people to use. Try to define the same “language”, structure and KPIs for everyone to understand and use the template.

  •    Encourage the team to automate and present a visualization of the scenario.
  •    Clearly define the “parameters” effecting the scenario and the objectives / KPIs set in advance to      classify the optimal scenario.
  •    Classify the type of meeting templates, for example: A call to action of prioritizing, for example:        annual work and budget plan meetings.
  •    Review progress, for example: program and project review meetings
  •    Define scenarios – once again this requires the right information to support cause and effect            analysis.

Learn when to stop the meeting

When focus or alignment is lost, or when the team is not ready, stop the meeting and set the course to fine-tune the process and better define the terminology and expectation for the next round.

Culture of continued improvement

Over time the process will settle. People will learn to better communicate and recurrent meetings will run based on a similar template. It will not happen in a day. Insist on making proper meeting management the first step of execution of your strategy.

 

So yes, good management defines good strategy, but a Great manager actually executes it and affects day to day work, leaving a mark on the organizational culture.

Ultimately, the “traditional” meeting is a great tool to materialize your vision and to influence your team towards alignment and efficiency. Use meetings to maintain your strategy integrity as real life unfolds.