|Dear Meeting Guru,
I am the project manager on a team of 11 people
that is required to lead a 'mandatory' weekly status meeting. The
meeting is scheduled for the same time, same day for the rest of
eternity but there is no commitment to the meeting. The two
team leaders often schedule conflicts or decide not to come
as a result team members feel no obligation. When all are in attendance,
meetings are often only 45 minutes long and are the only time the
entire team is ever together! How can I (without support of the
team leaders) get people to make the meeting a priority?
The first thing you need to recognize is that an effective team needs effective
meetings. Your group needs to realize that a weekly meeting is not just a way
of filling in time, but a vital forum for communication.
Your team should feel that the meeting is a valuable use of their time. In
order to convey that, you should work on your meeting preparation. First, define
a goal for the meeting. If you donít set an objective, there is nothing to accomplish!
Once youíve defined your goal, create a meeting agenda. Your agenda should cover:
|topics for discussion
|presenter or discussion leader for each topic
|time allotment for each topic
A well-prepared agenda should communicate the importance of the meeting and
give participants an opportunity to prepare. Try to schedule a diverse group
of speakers (including chronic non-attendees), and get their feedback on topics,
time etc. before you finalize the meeting agenda. People are less likely to
brush off a meeting if they have played a role in the planning process.
Make sure that team leaders are aware that their presence is vital. Itís a
waste of everyoneís time if decisions have to be postponed until key people
can be consulted. If a team leader has another commitment, postpone or reschedule
the entire meeting. (Hopefully this will send a clear signal to leaders indicating
how important it is for them to attend.)
If at all possible, you may want to consider meeting monthly rather than weekly.
It sounds like a weekly meeting is too much for this team. You could also consider
changing the time of your meeting. The best times to meet are 9 a.m. (before
everyone is immersed in their work) and 3 p.m. (once the after-lunch grogginess
has worn off).
To summarize, here are some simple, easy-to-follow and proven guidelines that
should be followed each and every time your group meets. Print this page. Hang
it on your meeting room wall. Write the guidelines on a poster. Memorize them
by heart. Do whatever it's going to take to improve your meetings!
||Only hold a meeting if necessary.
||All meetings must have clear objectives.
||Invite a neutral facilitator to sensitive meetings.
||Prepare a comprehensive meeting agenda.
||Circulate meeting information to all participants before
the meeting. This should include objectives, agenda, location, date/time,
background information, and assigned preparation items.
||Always start on time.
||Ensure participants are prompt, prepared, concise, and constructive.
||Record meeting notes and store them in a meeting archive.
||Document group decisions.
||Assign, document, and follow up on all action items.
Review the overall meeting effectiveness, and try to apply tips to your next
Good luck, and donít be afraid
to challenge the way your meetings have been held in the past. After all, as
the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "The man of wisdom is never in
two minds; the man of benevolence never worries; the man of courage is never
Until next time
may good meeting karma always be with you.