Whether a small business owner, or a manager in a company, meetings are probably a part of your weekly or daily routine. Unfortunately, the practice of holding meetings can get unwieldy, reducing productivity. The critical question is “to meet or not to meet?” Following are some ideas to consider when deciding on whether or not to conduct a meeting.
Overall, any meeting should be problem specific with the intent to solve it, decisions that have to be made, or information that you need that can not be shared easily by other methods. If there is no decision to be made or specific goals and objectives to be reached as a result of the meeting then you probably don’t need one. Avoid the temptation to hold a meeting just to meet. (In another blog we will share ideas on how to hold an effective meeting.)
STAFF MEETINGS - Years ago, regularly scheduled staff meetings were necessary for the manager to stay abreast of progress on projects their subordinates were working on. Email, texting, project management software, and cell phones have replaced the need to hold regularly scheduled staff meetings, or at least the need to have them as frequently. In place of a regularly scheduled staff meeting, consider requesting employees to provide a monthly or weekly update via email where all the key managers are copied on the replies. Everyone can observe the progress of others, and they have the opportunity to share their progress or challenges they are facing. If your manager’s report challenges in completing their assignments, then a meeting might be in order to discuss and develop solutions.
PROBLEM SOLVING - If one of your subordinates is having a problem or challenge in completing a project, then a face-to-face meeting is a great idea. This will allow you to ask questions, gain a better understanding of the challenges and then discuss, and develop possible solutions. Consider others that may need to be involved in the meeting that would be a part of the solution.
SOCIAL MEETINGS/TEAM BUILDING - There are times when gathering subordinates together for a social meeting provides benefits. Team building exercises, or meeting for lunch helps to build camaraderie among your employees. Recognizing good performance should be a part of these meetings as well. Be careful not to schedule too many social type meetings as it will impact productivity and lessen the positive effect of the team building spirit.
ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS - Holding a one-on-one meeting with your subordinates, or more importantly, making it known that you are available to them keeps your employees engaged and in touch when they need to be. The agenda for these meetings is simple -- “What do they need from you?” These meetings are brief, 15-20 minutes.
WHEN NOT TO MEET - Often managers find open spaces on their calendar and feel a need to meet with subordinates just “to catch up.” These meetings are not productive and take valuable time away from your subordinates that can be used to complete their assignments and work on their projects.
SHARING GENERAL INFORMATION - Use email or internal company websites to share general information such as personnel changes, updates to procedures or policies that are not complicated.
PROVIDING STATUS REPORTS - Opt for email or an internal company website as a way to share information about the current progress of your business or division within the company. These are best provided at regular intervals such as; monthly or quarterly.
Never be discouraged from holding a meeting when discussion among your subordinates is required to reach an effective decision, or anytime two-way communication is required such as brainstorming sessions. If there are no clear objectives, decisions, or outcomes for the meeting, then look for other communication alternatives. Your employees will appreciate you respecting their time and they will be able to maintain their productivity.
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