On the Job

3 rules for productive meetings

A meeting is an excellent tool to improve communication and collaboration in an organization. Creativity flows. Relationships build. Work moves forward. A good meeting can make you feel glad you came to work that day.

But none of this happens by accident.

I’ve written before about reasons to cancel a meeting as well as the plethora of meeting mistakes that leaders make. However, it would be unproductive to have a meeting-free culture. People still have to talk to each other, and without meetings, interruptions flourish.

So how do we increase the likelihood of having a “good” meeting? Follow rules.

Meetings have had rules since the dawn of time. Talking sticks, Parliamentary procedure, and Robert’s Rules of Order are a few examples.

But somehow, many company meetings have devolved into freeform discussions with few discernible outcomes.

While you may not want to institute quorums and train your colleagues on whether or not to call a point of order, there is still a place for meeting rules.

Here are the basics.

Rule #1:  You must tell everyone why they are there and what decisions will be made. If you’ve made some folks a little nervous, that’s a good thing.

Rule #2:  You must create an environment of individual accountability. In the meeting notes, you name names. You assign follow-up dates. There is no confusion about who does what and by when.

Rule #3:  Your meeting must require work before, during and after. People prepare for the meeting, someone takes minutes, and other folks have follow-up actions to perform.

You may add some rules of your own. For example, you may create a latecomers rule.

The threads of society are held together by rules. So are meetings. Rule on, friends.

Video Extra: This Meeting is a Complete Waste of Time – Steven’s Story

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