In this last post in a triptych that will complete our conversation about meetings, I wanted to offer a few suggestions to help you have fewer of them. (If you’d like to catch up, the first is meetings and the demise of the productive workplace and the second is finding a larger purpose with meetings. and getting little done in the process.)
Suggestion 1: Empower your staff to make decisions
If you empower people to make decisions, you avoid many meetings that are about decision avoidance or decision approval. I’m a “trust but verify” kind of guy so don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you abandon ship. Rather, by defining concrete boundaries I can trust my employees to make good decisions, knowing they’ll ask for guidance and approval when they need it.
Suggestion 2: Leverage new technology to have fewer meetings
At Evaero, we keep what amounts to a running internal blog on everything of consequence in our organization. As such, many of the conversations that normally happen in meetings now happen in the blog. The beauty of this is we can each engage in the conversation on our own schedule and keep a pulse on things without sitting in a never ending meeting.
Suggestion 3: Make sure it’s not about you
I’ve sat in many a meeting when it’s clear to me the meeting is about the guy who called it. Don’t be that guy. In terms of general meetings I try to ensure the focus is on:
- Managing change
- Reminding (mission, vision, and values)
- Moving things through organizational silos
In terms of 121s with direct reports, I keep my meetings short and structured and use a standard agenda (see here for a copy of my agenda). I’ll talk more about 121s in a future post but, by spending most of my time listening and asking questions, I find they are a great way to learn about the person sitting in front of you and your organization.
Suggestion 4: Be mindful
Be mindful of how meetings may inadvertently be disrupting the lives of your staff and your workplace. Jason Fried’s TED Talk which has been viewed over three million times is a great place to start convincing yourself this is an issue worth taking seriously.
Before signing out, in case you haven’t heard of them, I thought I’d introduce you to the duo Shovels and Rope. Their new album Swimmin’ Time is quite good but I wanted to leave you with their song Birmingham which I heard for the first time on KXCI while driving my son to school. It’s a semi-autobiographical story of how married singer/songwriters Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst became Shovels & Rope.
Until next week, do remember, “it aint what you’ve got, it’s what you make.”
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