Meetings are important tools for having a sound engagement within members of a team or organization. And yet, they are widely misunderstood. We have all been part of meetings that seemed to waste a great deal of everyone’s time and seemed to have been held for historical rather than practical reasons. According to a 2012 survey of US professionals by Salary.com, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer (dealing with office politics was a close second).
With so many issues that IT teams face on a daily basis (or shall I say hourly?), it’s easy to skip/cancel meetings or rush through them in order to deal with fires or other tasks. But meetings can be a useful tool for the team to use as a chance to level-set, escaping the pressure-cooker of the data center and giving each member the chance to voice their opinion on the organization’s challenges and opportunities.
So how can we make IT meetings meeting more productive and useful for everyone in the room? Here are some ideas:
- Keep it short. The most productive meetings are the ones that are short and concise. If you have the responsibility of running regular meetings and you have a reputation for being someone who starts and ends promptly, you will be amazed how many of your colleagues will make every effort to attend your meetings! People appreciate it when you understand that their time is valuable.This will also ensure that the meetings finish on time. Try sticking to a max of 30 minutes and watch the results!
- Give everyone a chance to speak. When you’re calling a meeting, take time to think about who really needs to be there. If you’re announcing a change, invite the people who are affected by the announcement. Provide each person the opportunity to deliver their top 2 thoughts and suggestions.
- Publish the agenda ahead of time – and stick to it. Focus on creating an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance. Once you’re in the meeting, display the agenda for others to see to help keep people focused. Manage deviations & interruptions appropriately and take things offline where needed.
- Establish requirements for reporting and review metrics/KPIs efficiently during the meeting. Have a plan that ensures that the key KPI and metrics for the meeting are laid out in the meeting at the beginning so that by the end of the meeting you have a fair idea of whether the time spent in the meeting was useful.
- Cover issues, resolutions and highlights of the week. Meetings are a good place to cover all the major issues that happened over the course of the last week as well as key highlights that can boost team morale.
The goals of internal meetings are to have mindshare and communicate on current needs. What they should not be is a waste of time. Meetings truly can be valuable and productive – you just have to take the steps to make them that way.
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