I know what you are thinking, “Jeez this guy writes a lot about meetings.” You’re not wrong. Meetings, when not done correctly, are a time sink and quite frankly, soul-sucking experience. So much waste is caused by unnecessary meetings. But it’s not a lost cause. With just a few changes, time usage and morale can be gained. So yeah, I talk about it a lot. I’m also going to talk a bit more about it today and probably more in the future. So brace yourselves.
The first thing that will help is to start thinking of meetings as a platform. Every platform has a purpose. A message to be delivered or an outcome to be reached. This distinction will make expectations clear upfront. Check out an earlier post on building platforms for more information.
If you start treating all your meetings like platforms you can consolidate them down to 5 different types. This should be all you need. Consolidation can be a successful recipe when determining meeting rhythm throughout your weekly/monthly schedules. These 5 meeting types come straight from the book “Death By Meeting, ” and I recommend the read. Get this book for your team, boss, bosses boss. It will help, I promise.
This is a quick daily check in with the entire team. It should happen first thing in the morning as it’s a chance to describe what you plan to get accomplished for the day. Typically, daily standups consist of each team member going around the room stating what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and if they need assistance. I have been doing this long enough that I find that stating what they did yesterday isn’t interesting. I ask my team to set a daily goal for themselves to help them feel like they accomplish something that day. I also give them a chance to discuss any roadblocks or cross team items. This meeting should only last 5 mins and asking people to stand will help stick to a quick time frame.
This is a weekly meeting where the team discusses any tactical topics that have come up from the week. If you need a decision from the team, this is the perfect meeting to discuss. We start our tactical with a round robin and ask the question “is there anything interesting worth sharing?” (Projects being closed/started, feedback from customers, etc.) and “is there anything that needs to be discussed?” (Priority conflicts that need resolution, pending decisions, etc.). When we do the round robin, we don’t immediately talk about each topic. We get all topics, then prioritize which need to go first. In other words, we finalize the agenda at the start of the meeting based on a recipe we created ahead of time. This is a 1-hour meeting, and it should fall early or late in the week.
This is a monthly meeting where the team discusses more forward-looking topics. The meeting should be dedicated to 1 maybe 2 topics. Each should be strategic in nature. Do not spend your time here with topics that could easily be discussed in the weekly tactical. This is a period of focus and debate amongst the team. Examples of topics we have hit have been future organization structure, future KPI metrics with measurement strategies, and how to conduct/track customer satisfaction surveys. These meetings should be 2 – 4 hours and held on a monthly basis. Agenda should be set ahead of time to allow for members to prep.
This is for really far looking discussions. We have used this time to set our 5-year roadmap and evaluate the pace/path we are on. It’s offsite because it requires focus (no email distraction!) but it is also meant to be a bonding experience. Families are usually welcome, and I recommend doing a family event after the meeting. Last offsite we had, we got an AirB&B in town with a pool. We didn’t stay the night, but we used it for our meeting during the day and had a backyard bbq for the families after. This should be a 2-day meeting, and it should happen 2 – 4 times per year. I want to stress that this should be offsite. If you are strategizing properly, you will see your ROI.
These are meetings that happen when an agenda item does not get resolved. So the idea would be that during a weekly tactical if you stumble upon a topic that may take 30 mins to get through, you should stop discussion and schedule a dedicated Adhoc meeting specifically for this subject. This allows you to move down the list while planning time to finish up the discussion you are currently having. We like to try to keep the afternoon of our tactical day free to allow us to schedule any ad-hoc meetings as needed. This meeting should allow for appropriate time derived from the subject matter. In other words, some might take 30 mins, others longer. You are the judge.
I know this sounds like a lot of meetings, but if this is done correctly, it will cut down your overall meeting times. Not to mention the efficiencies you will start seeing within the meetings themselves. We have been doing this for years, and it has worked very well.
I’ll leave you with a final recommendation that will help you down this path. I recommend sitting down and getting everyone on the same meeting rhythm. For us, we like to keep our Tactical on a Tuesday morning with a free afternoon for potential AdHocs. Our Strategic always fall on a Thursday, and we each have our standups at 845 in the morning. Getting everyone on the same page helps with crazy calendars and will give you more blocks of unassigned time.
I hope this is helpful and again check out the book I mentioned above. If you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments below. I always love to hear from my readers. Also please follow me on social media @shaunhalltalk. It’s the best way to connect with me. Thanks!
Death By Meeting by Patrick Linceone: Link
Featured Photo: Link