Too Many Meetings? Have a Meeting
There I was. In my second boring meeting of the morning. At 8:30 AM.
Inside my head, I kept a dialog: "What a waste of time. Surely, this is not what my momma wanted me to grow up to be? What was that song about mommas and babies and cowboys? Ugh. I want to rip my ears off. We've had this same meeting three times in the past two weeks... and nothing has every been resolved! We just talk about a surface issue, make a bunch of vague decisions, then come back next week and do it all again. Bah. Once this 'meeting' is over, I'll just end up doing something myself. And next time we schedule this meeting, I'm going to make sure I'm at the dentist for that root canal".
Maybe you've been in a meeting today just like this. Worse, maybe you held it.
There's hope for you.
If you're a leader, chances are that you find yourself spending a lot of your time in meetings. After all, your job as a leader is to communicate, right? But as your team grows, so does your frustration will grow as you realize you can’t effectively communicate with everyone. It’s not physically possible. So you hold more meetings.
We bring together the best ideas – turning the meetings of our top managers into intellectual orgies.
– Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric
(Dave's note: OK, I want to be in a meeting with that guy, just to know what an 'intellectual orgy' is. Wait..I've seen his photo ...maybe not.)
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a meeting as "a gathering of people for a particular purpose." A gathering of your sales team to review metrics is a meeting. An employee in your office complaining about the their computer is a meeting. A phone call with your web designer to clarify images on a web page is a meeting. Lunch with a client to discuss their project is a meeting.
Now that we've established what a 'meeting' is, here's another definition (alert: cliche) you've heard: insanity: doing the same thing in the same way and expecting different results.
Yet it's true - meetings can be insane. If you can't take control of your meetings, your meetings will take control of you.
Been there, done that
Before I discovered the solution, I found myself running around meeting people, at all times of the day, every day. I know, not exactly exciting fodder for my kids to want to invite me to "career day" at their elementary school. Because of the endless stream of meetings, I found myself coming in early and on weekends just to "get actual s**t done". I wore it like a badge of honor, but it was killing me, my attitude, and my relationship with my family.
It was my fault. I created these meetings. I micromanaged and wanted to "be in the know". I never establish a way of meeting, to allow my team to resolve issues without my direct involvement.
Can you relate? I implore you to fix this. Now. The path you’re on is not healthy for you or your business.
So what are your options to 'fixing this'?
If your important issues list is growing, there are several things you can do:
- Meet more often
- Meet for a longer period of time
- Change the people you're meeting with
- Change the meeting agenda to efficiently focus on identifying and solving issues
Options one and two are simply what you are doing now, right? Yep, insanity. You're going off the rails on a crazy train. Cut it out.
If you're really looking to reduce the amount of time you're spending in regular leadership meetings, but at the same time make them more effective, there's a tool for you: EOS's The Level 10 Meeting™ tool. Download the PDF of the agenda here. And watch the video at the end of this article.
You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve.
- Steve Jobs
How Many Meetings Do You Really Need?
According to Patrick Lencioni in his book Death By Meeting, the simple answer: as many as it takes to communicate, create clarity, alignment and focus around solving real and important issues. In highly productive team meetings, issues are truly solved when teammates leave the meeting crystal clear about what the "solve" is, the critical steps needed to complete the solve, and who is responsible within a time period to get those steps done. Accountability is then assured when the team members confirm they have completed the critical steps during a follow up meeting.
Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.
- Peter Drucker
Who Should You Meet With?
Invite only the smallest number of people needed to resolve the issue. Each person adds more time to your meeting. Of course, "one" or "zero" is not a meeting. Don't be ridiculous with this rule.
Invite people who will contribute valuable knowledge and creativity to the meeting, and can be open to discussion and honest in their feedback without politics.
Meet only with people who will directly be responsible for the decisions made in that meeting. Decisions made during a meeting must have someone accountable to getting it done, and someone to point to when there is no follow through.
The best answer is to do focused meetings with a few people, and the right people participating.
- Watch this video on leading effective meetings for entrepreneurial leadership teams.
- Download the EOS Level 10 Meeting™ tool.
- Purchase/ Download the book Traction, book that shows you how to get your company (and meetings) on track. Or save your money and reach out to me. I've got a copy for you.
- Think you might be ready to get started with EOS? Reach out for a free 30 minute conversation.