“Why am I still here?” You ask yourself and realize that the meeting has barely begun. All right, it’s no secret that most of us would rather be working. And you are right, because it’s from meeting to meeting that hours and hours of work are lost. A collaborative study between Microsoft, AOL and Salary.com calculated how long professionals actually work. Believe me: it’s only three days a week, or about one hour and a half per day. The rest of our time is spent mainly at unproductive meetings. Everything your company does not need is to keep that legacy. On the contrary, by having an intelligent task management, your guests can get out excited from your meetings. Just follow these steps:
5 requirements for a productive meeting
1. Your meeting should have a clear purpose. Without it, you can easily turn into a chance encounter, which is anything but productive.
2. Your meeting should be convened only to be aware of a decision already made. Do not use meetings to make decisions.
3. Your meeting should always produce an action plan.
4. Your meeting should have an end time. Limits feed creativity and the lack of them will only create unnecessary conversation.
5. Participants should leave the meeting without any questions about what was discussed and aware of the next steps.
What do I need to accomplish? To announce a strategy change? To discuss on a report? To lead a brainstorm? These are good reasons to call a meeting. However, follow-up meetings are rarely a good use of time. After clearly defining what will be the purpose of your meeting (prefer a maximum of three), define which results are expected and take them to the meeting. This is smart task management.
Before inviting, think those who really need to join your meeting. If you are announcing a change, invite people who will be affected by it. If you are trying to solve a problem, invite only who can contribute useful information and technical knowledge to the solution. A tip is to use the Rule 7, according to which each participant beyond seven reduces by 10% the chance to make a quick decision.
Punctuality and duration
Your meeting should not last more than an hour. Ideally, no more than 30 minutes – and it’s okay if some matter be pending for a new meeting. Start on time, regardless of who’s late. And when they finally arrive, don’t recap what has already been discussed. You can even reward with a little gift those who attended on time. But if someone can’t attend, don’t ask for an explanation, much less penalize the person. All this contributes to a culture that values productive meetings and responsible professional.
In advance, share with your guests your online agenda with the subjects to be discussed at the meeting and how long each will take. What’s not on the agenda, won’t be touched. After analyzing your agenda, make it visible to all during the meeting and this will help keep everyone’s focus. By the way, nothing distracts a meeting faster than someone speaking more than should. In this case, interrupt diplomatically: “We appreciate your contributions, but now we need others to participate.”
It’s dangerous, but not unusual, that people get out of the same meeting with very different interpretations of what happened. Not to take that risk, send an e-mail with the minutes to all who attended, immediately after the meeting. In addition, document the responsibilities assigned, delegated tasks, and all deadlines. This is how everyone will be on the same page to return to work, and your meeting will have been worthwhile.
The secrets of the two giants
Kristen Gil, VP of Business Operations, says the meetings in the company don’t have more than 10 participants and all the meetings have an “official decision maker”. This led the social network Google+ to receive more than 100 features only three months after its release. Another secret is that at Google decisions should never wait for a meeting. Otherwise, the company is dependent on its meeting agenda. If a meeting really needs to happen for something to be done, Gil advises to convene it as soon as possible.
According to Adam Lashinsky, author of “Inside Apple”, each step of a project and each task has its “DRI” or “Directly Responsible Individual”. His/Her name appears next to his/her tasks on the agenda, to avoid any confusion about who should do this or that. In addition, one must be prepared to challenge and be challenged. If a person does not have ideas to defend, should not be at the meeting. Everyone there must be willing to very well defend and criticize the ideas presented.
You know that you will decrease the number of meetings and make the few left more productive if you can daily follow the status of your projects. But how? Use the task management of Runrun.it, a project and performance management software that keeps impressing managers and leaders worldwide. Try it for free now: http://runrun.it
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