Most of us feel like we attend too many meetings. Learn five practices from Gord Dmytriw to make your organization’s meetings more effective.
Gord Dmytriw: I want to make the case today about how elevating a conversation about stewardship will have practical meaningful results in your organization and in particular in one way, to help your people have more effective meetings. There’s a Native American proverb I absolutely love, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors as much as we borrow it from our children.” I just love that notion of stewardship. The obligation that one has to protect, preserve, and enhance the assets that are temporarily entrusted to them, but not owned by them. It really is simply the duty to leave things better than we found them. They’re of course many, many ways to fulfill this obligation, but one of the most important ways in an organization I think is just so obvious that we overlook it and we just go about our day-to-day work lives oblivious to it.
Think about this: our organization’s most valuable asset is our people. Therefore, time – their time – must fall into the purview of a good steward’s responsibility. Good stewards protect assets that are entrusted to them. Surely a colleague’s time falls into this category. Yet, think about the meetings that we have, think about the frustrations that are around meetings in your organization and certainly in our organization. We all have this sense that we hold, we attend too many meetings, and that somehow these meetings are not as effective as they could be. The fact of the matter is we’re social animals, we’re programmed by evolution to convene in groups to get things done, so meetings aren’t going away anytime soon.
What behaviors or practices could we model to be better stewards of one another’s time?
Here are five practices for more productive meetings.
1. Clarify the shared purpose of your meeting.
2. Take the time to truly and clearly define the objective of your meeting. Take the time to understand your personal purpose for attending that meeting. If you don’t know why you’re in the room, why are you in the meeting?
3. Third, define the program, aka your agenda. Take the time to clearly define the steps that you’re going to take throughout the meeting so people know coming in what the meeting is all about.
4. Be prepared. If there’s preparation required, do it in advance of the meeting. While that might be obvious, how many times have you checked in with everybody’s prep work and found that half of your meeting team hasn’t done the work?
5. Finally, presence. When was it that we let the digital interrupt interpersonal communication? Why do we allow digital interruptions in a meeting? If we’re truly present in a meeting, we’re going to get more out of the meeting.
Hold one another accountable to being present in the meeting, close communication programs, have phones in purses and pockets, and don’t let the digital interrupt the value of all of those brains that are in a room.
Hold yourself accountable to these five simple common sense practices and take the time to hold others accountable to them as well. Remind them to include an agenda. Remind them to define the shared purpose, to think about who’s in the room and why, to be present in the room, and to be prepared. The next time you’re setting up a meeting, think about how you’re being a good steward of another’s time and how you’re encouraging others to be good stewards of your time.