The Power of Productive Meetings

Most of us think of meetings as boring or dislike them for one reason or another.   So, often they lack real progress, decisions are often avoided, they lack purpose, the wrong people are at the meeting or they last too long.

To avoid this history, here are three principles, you as a leader, can employ for more effective meetings:

  • Consistency and clarity of purpose
  • Foster healthy team debate
  • Meeting agendas and best practices

Consistency and Clarity of Purpose: No one wants to hold a meeting “just to hold a meeting” and one shouldn’t.  Here are just a few reasons why holding regular team meetings can add value to your team.  

  1. Regular meetings allow for clarity on projects and assignments
  2. They help you reinforce important and timely goals
  3. They give you space to discuss and clear roadblocks for near-term goals
  4. They’re a great time to do some creative idea sharing around services
  5. They’re great for recognizing great performance and for engaging in team learning and training

Spending time to invest in your team and review critical goals show they that you value their input, needs and perspective.

Regardless of your busy schedule, spending just one hour per week as a team reviewing key goals and progress is essential to healthy communication and collaboration.  It helps build valuable team trust and helps eliminate roadblocks. 

Foster Healthy Team Debate:  Fostering quality debate of ideas in team meetings is a valuable benefit to meeting regularly. Healthy debate of ideas during meetings makes the project or service you’re discussing stronger and more resilient.  Meetings without debate are boring and unproductive.  Just ensure that, as the leader, that your team keeps the debate on the idea, and not on a person - healthy debate is what we want.

To have healthy debate, ensure that everyone gets to share, not just the vocal people on your team.  Encourage each person to share their gut-level honest assessment of the idea you are debating in order for real opinions and perspectives to emerge.   As a leader, you will want to model authenticity and share your concerns and hopes for your key projects. 

To encourage more healthy debate consider asking questions like:

  • What’s wrong with this idea?
  • What’s right about it?
  • What’s missing?
  • Do we need to do this project at all?
  • Who will it impact the most?
  • Who else needs to give input?
  • How do we communicate it?
  • What’s the worst part of this idea?
  • What is the single thing that makes this idea or project worth it?
  • These types of questions can get your team talking and really engaged

Meeting Agendas and Best Practices:  Here are a few best practice ideas to consider for every meeting you hold including necessary items for your meeting agenda.

  • Send an agenda out before each meeting
  • Let others know if they should come prepared and if so, with what
  • Invite only those that can add value
  • Ensure someone takes notes and distributes the notes after the meeting
  • Ensure non-agenda items get tabled unless urgent
  • Meeting agendas should consist of at least:
    • Start and stop time
    • Stated meeting purpose
    • Allow for some personal sharing early in the meeting to continue to build team bonds of trust
    • Review anything that was “held over” or tabled until this week
    • Timely project updates, roadblocks and coordination
    • Review decisions that were made and who will do what when
    • Share any items that need to be distributed down into each department
    • Managers should provide any “upward” feedback from their teams and address questions as a team
    • If you are a department meeting, make a list of any items that your team feels need to be addressed by the City/County Manager meeting.
    • Recognize a team member accomplishments, service anniversaries and birthdays

We hope this overview of productive meetings helps you and you and your team be more productive, successful and cohesive as a team.   If your team could benefit from a series of teamwork, management and leadership workshops, let us know or learn more at our website.  




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