Four meeting management strategies and tips that could be the creative solution you've been looking for to better meetings.
Meetings. The dreaded gathering of any office. For so long, meetings have been misused by employees as time to catch up on sleep, think about the weekend, and in more recent times, catch up on emails and social media on phones.
As a project manager, you have been granted the terrifying task of organizing meetings. And as you already know, many times, they’re just too important not to conduct. So to help alleviate your meeting management headaches, we’ve compiled four common problems, and four strategies to solve them.
1. Finishing on time
Ever been to a meeting that drags on for hours and cuts into other scheduled tasks? To avoid overrun—and angry employees—it’s important to stick to an agenda and make realistic promises and estimates. Without an agenda, there is no established framework for a meeting. And without structure, it’s easy to watch time slip by.
Once you establish an agenda, you’ll have a better idea of how much time you should allot for your meetings and will be able to avoid going overtime.
2. Dominant, silent, (or downright bored) participants
Unfortunately, some employees treat meetings as their own personal podium. And while it’s important to have your employees feel valued, it’s equally essential to flex your managerial muscles, should anything get out of hand. Remain democratic, but make sure to step in when things get off-topic.
By the same token, it’s important to encourage employees to create an environment where they feel empowered to contribute their thoughts and opinions. While some employees may not be in the mood to speak up, it’s important that they don’t feel intimidated or undervalued.
As aforementioned, employees’ strategies to feign interest in meetings have evolved over the years. Presently, smartphones are the silent killer. The solution? Suggest that employees leave personal tech at their desks. By establishing an agenda, and properly managing engaged employees, you’ll be sure to notice a difference in how your meetings transpire.
3. Missing team members and stakeholders
When key members don’t attend your meetings, inconclusive or impulsive decisions may be made. Without regular interaction, your team and department members may feel isolated—and it is up to you as a project manager to ensure collaboration and cooperation across a project team. Diagnose this problem by understanding whypeople aren’t attending. Is it miscommunication? Do employees feel that your meetings are a waste of time? Are you using your meeting as a platform for unnecessary announcements (when email is a perfect alternative)?
Make your meetings worth attending—and make sure that real work is getting done.
4. Lack of follow-through on meeting items
Ultimately, the effectiveness of a meeting is measured by its outcome. If your team doesn’t follow through on items and decisions discussed in the meeting, then you should question the value of holding a meeting in the first place. Remember, your team is only human—people need a written reminder what action is required of them and by when. Make sure you provide your team with clear, concise action points.
It is up to you as project manager to serve as your team’s leader. And a good leader is one that delegates responsibilities, as necessary. That’s why it’s important to establish point persons during a meeting. These individuals ensure that project goals are progressing as planned. They may be senior copywriters or art directors. Choose them wisely, as they will be your middlemen, moving forward.
So there you have it. These are the 4 most common problems I come across with meetings and what can be done to mitigate the damage. What other problems do you come across? What alternative solutions would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!