Meaningful Meetings – It’s all about your A.G.E.N.D.A.S
It’s a well-worn topic, the effectiveness of meetings, so why cover it, I hear you ask? Because they’re important and an opportunity to engage, inspire and most importantly work with your people to define, commit to and deliver change – to do this, they need to be meaningful.
In today’s business world, you may be multi –sited, not see your team from one day to the next, needing to ensure that your team are fully on board with any changes that need to be made and capable of delivering the changes that they and you believe will bring the success you and they are striving for. An effective meaningful weekly, monthly or quarterly meeting, may be your only opportunity to do this.
Now before we go any further, I need to say that I know that you know this, but great meetings don’t arrive over night with little or no effort. If your meetings aren’t great, stop beating yourself up, you’re in the majority, start making them better.
Take a look at the following elements of a meaningful meeting, which I’ve put under the acronym A.G.E.N.D.A.S (see what I did there!?!). Once you’ve read through the 7 steps, identify one thing you could do to enhance your meetings and go put it into practice. Who knows, perhaps your action could even be to discuss the effectiveness of your meetings with your team, using this article as the starting point.
A.G.E.N.D.A.S – Your key to Meaningful Meetings
A – Aim
- What’s the purpose of the meeting you’re having?
- How confident are you that this meeting will add value to your business, people and customers?
When setting or agreeing to a meeting, make sure that you and all your attendees are clear on the aim and purpose of your meeting and that this purpose will add value to your business. After all, if your meeting doesn’t add value, why are you having it? Change it so it does or don’t have it.
G – Game Plan
- What does an effective meeting look, sound and feel like for your team?
- What’s your greatest priority and what needs the least amount of time spent on it?
- How will you decide?
A meeting, like sporting success, will be less effective without an effective game plan. The greatest tacticians have the flexibility to change their game plan based on what they face and the team they have playing, but, all have a starting point and plan they can benchmark against after the ‘game’.
If you’re unsure, ask your team to describe the best meeting you’ve had. Model the approach used and discuss openly and on a regular basis, what’s working well and how it could be even better. Based on experience, this improves engagement, commitment and the usefulness of your meetings all in one go.
E – Engagement
- What will you do to ensure that all of those who attend are engaged?
- That they all participate and gain something from it, with clear deliverables and outcomes, and are committed to deliver change?
Sitting in a meeting, where one person speaks and the others are expected to listen is quite simply boring, means the person speaking does all the work and is expected to have all of the answers and often leads to a disenchanted group of attendees and a lack of commitment to actions agreed within the meeting.
If you aren’t confident your people will be engaged, think of ways to excite and enthuse them, ways to build participation and begin to delegate sections of the agenda to those attending. Work towards the ideal of sitting in the meeting and having it run as effectively with you taking part as without – when this happens, you know you’ve cracked it.
N – Norms and Norm Keeper
- How will you ensure that you keep to your agreed game plan and leap away from it when appropriate?
- How will you ensure that momentum is maintained, whilst ensuring items are discussed appropriately?
- How will you make sure everyone gets to speak?
Running a meeting where the group haven’t agreed the ‘rules of engagement’ so to speak and the elements of what will make a good meeting, will make it harder to use the time you have effectively. Having a set of ‘norms’ you can refer to when things (as they will) go off track, agreed amongst your team will make a big difference and I would consider implementing a revolving chairperson or ‘norm keeper’, who’ll help you ‘stick’ to your norms.
D – Decision making process
- What process will you follow for examining an issue and how will you make sure that it’s fair, transparent and committed to?
- Will you hold the final decision or will it be down to a vote?
- How will you obtain consensus and agreement with those attending the meeting?
At one end of the decision making spectrum, is the agreement that the ‘leader’ or chair will hold the final decision and at the other, that all decisions must be made by unanimous agreement. In the middle, there is the opportunity to agree consensus by majority vote – whatever you choose the approach must be committed to and improve, not lessen the effectiveness of your meeting and the long term impact of your decision.
For more information on choosing a decision making process see: Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – a way of ensuring that you’ve reviewed the issue from all perspectives.
A – Action
- How will you ensure that actions agreed during the meeting are accurately recorded, ascribed and committed to?
- How will you ensure that completion of the actions is monitored and communicated and how will you review the effectiveness of the actions ‘taken away’?
Even where a meeting is to share information, if there are not changes to be implemented, information to be disseminated back in the field or feedback or ideas requested, ask yourself, why are we having this meeting? The effectiveness of a meeting and the ongoing commitment of those attending to attend again, must be judged by the impact of the outcomes of them. If they’re not useful, quite simply people will not come, or at the very least, will come under duress.
S – Sanity Check and Share
- How often do you run your meetings?
- How effective are they?
- What could be done to improve them and lessen their frequency?
In the modern business environment, time is at a premium, the opportunity to sanity check the effectiveness of your meeting skills and the amount of involvement you are having to have in leading and directing them, is key to the effectiveness of you in leading your organisation.
Begin to reduce the dependence your team have on you in running effective meetings by involving them in planning for, delivering and participating in them. One of the quickest ways to inspire your people is to collaborate with them, involve them, provide feedback and reinforce the great things they do.
From experience, running as well as participating in a meeting effectively, takes a lot of practice and skill. This might be time perhaps that you feel that you haven’t got or had in the past to devote to developing your meeting skills. You can make really quick gains, by employing the services of a professional facilitator or coach, who can give you feedback on the tweaks you need, to make a real success of your meetings and provide a demonstration of what great looks like.
Your Leadership Counsel – Here for you…
If you’ve struggled with any of the elements outlined in this blog, would love to know more or are looking for a critical friend and trusted adviser or indeed expert facilitator to help you and your leadership team, I’d love to hear from you.
Tel: +44 (0) 77369 42382
Stefan Powell is Your Leadership Counsel and has been developing leaders, teams and organisational capability for change for well over a decade. Inspiring, committed and devoted to the success of his clients, he excels in working 1:1 with leaders and business owners to bring inspiration, clarity and focus to everything they do.
“I always come away from a meeting with Stefan re-energized, re-focussed and brimming with enthusiasm for the world. Not only is he insightful, provocative and intelligent in his comments & questions … he’s also great company!” Joanna Moyle – Director – Iviva Consulting