Is your weekly meeting a waste of time?


photo credti: Casey Konstantín

How effective are your weekly meetings? Are you discussing what’s most important? How do you know? Ineffective meetings are not only a waste of time for everyone involved, they also waste money (you’re paying people to waste that time, rather than do something productive) and hurt morale (your people want to make a difference, and when time is wasted, it gets them down).

How do you know if your meeting is ineffective?  Here are some signs:

  • Was there any disagreement or spirited debate?  If not, the meeting was likely a waste of time.
  • If there was debate, was it resolved?  Was a decision made?  If not, this is also likely hurting more than it’s helping.
  • Even without debate, all hope is not lost.  Were insights generated that will lead to action?  If you’re not sure, the answer is no.  For action to result, you have to have a mechanism for accountability, such as the Who What When (WWW) action list.  Without knowing who’s doing what, by when, action won’t happen.
  • Did you unlock the collective intelligence in the room?  If you didn’t spend at least 20-30 minutes on a company priority or strategic initiative, with the vast majority of that time spent on questions or advice for the accountable person, you’re likely not getting the most from the brainpower in the room.

If your meeting is a waste, what should you do?

  • First, cancel your weekly meeting.
  • Then, make sure you’re clear on the company priorities for the quarter.
  • Only then, begin again.  Try this agenda to get you started.  After 90 days, adjust as necessary:
    • Good News (5 minutes) — Everyone shares some personal and/or professional good news.  This has everyone participating and brings the team closer to one another, working with positive energy.  This also reinforces the idea that everyone’s a participant in this meeting.  No spectators!
    • WWWs (2 minutes) — Review the outstanding Who What When actions from prior meetings.
    • Numbers (5-10 minutes) — Which numbers, you ask?  That’ll be for another post.
    • Customer and Employee Feedback (10 minutes) —  If you collect this data in a systematic way, share what’s being collected by the system.  If you don’t have a system, then just giving people a chance to talk about what they’ve heard from customers or employees this week becomes your system.  Over time, patterns will emerge.  No long discussions here, just go over the data and assign any tasks (WWWs!).
    • Collective Intelligence (20-45 minutes) — Schedule company priorities, one per weekly meeting.  If you have 3 priorities, then each one will come up about 4 times in the quarter.  The accountable person should come with a brief (no more than 5 minutes) update/report/presentation bringing everyone up to speed about what’s been done so far and what the plan is from here on out.  The rest of the time is for the whole team to ask questions, give suggestions, brainstorm, debate, etc.
    • WWWs (2 minutes) — Review the new actions that have been added this meeting.
    • Word or Phrase Close — Everyone’s a participant.  How are they feeling now?

If all you do is the collective intelligence time (with WWWs), you’ll be way ahead of the game.  For everything else, feel free to add agenda items over time, as the existing ones are solidly established as habits.

What do you do that’s working for your weekly meeting?  Please comment below.




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