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New year, new rules! How to run effective meetings?

It is official, Shopify is killing boring work meetings! In an internal memo to employees sent on January 3, Shopify CEO Kaz Nejatian announced that all previously scheduled recurring work meetings with three or more people would be removed from their calendars, and a two-week "cooling off" period would be enforced before any meetings could be scheduled. We’ve all been stuck in a bad meeting… one person late and the entire group who arrived on time need to waste 10 minutes waiting for everyone to start the meeting; unclear agenda; freestyle discussion… Nothing is really decided and the meeting wraps up, as everyone silently loses one precise hour out of your 8 hours workday. Bad meetings kill productivity.

Meetings are scheduled to share information, decision-making, and to allow for feedback and discussion. The meeting becomes a problem when there is no information to impart, decision to make, or feedback to give, but the meeting still occurs. What type of meetings should we kill?

  • 1-on-1 meeting

  • Regular weekly / bi-weekly progress report with no goals

  • Meetings with no set agenda

How do we stay productive without meeting?

Communicate through email, phone first before the need to communicate person-to-person. Making email our default communication mode is the most productive way after killing a brunch of meetings. If someone can not get the answers out from email, agree to a phone call, straight to the point. Dive right in: OK, what needs to be done here? What are we trying to accomplish? What tasks will be done by whom? And then you’re done.

What makes a successful meeting?

Yet, we believe productive meetings are still part and parcel of every organization - a way for the team to gather, exchange ideas, share feedback, and learn from each other. There is a better way. If we want to plan and host successful meetings, we will need a proper framework and time management strategy to lead the discussion in the right direction. Efficient meetings can speed through an agenda in a short amount of time; truly effective meetings deliver a tangible result or outcome. Everyone should leave with a feeling of clarity and confidence in exactly what they need to do, how they need to do it, and when it needs to be done. For meetings to stay effective and the attendants to stay engaged, we gather some tips and strategies from our Executives candidates - they work for anyone, regardless of title.

Create a meeting policy

Meeting needs to have an agenda (including recurring meetings), a call-in number, guidelines, and note distribution, for a start. Everyone within the organization can reject to attend meetings without this structure.

Explore alternatives

Could this meeting be done and concluded in an email? Most of the time, if the purpose of the meeting is to share information that does not require discussion, an email or shared drive with the correct information would serve the purpose. If the discussion requires more than one person, a call would work too which is generally shorter than scheduled meetings.

Clear purpose

Successful meetings have a clear purpose. Without an objective, there is no reason for holding a meeting. We must differentiate between the need for essential communications which can be done through email or phone call versus the need to call a strategic meeting to accomplish an important goal such as project planning, solving a problem, setting a goal, making a decision, or mapping out a customer journey which needs group discussion. The meeting objective should have results-oriented terms and actionable goals.

Shorten the meeting

Maybe the meeting doesn't need to be 60 minutes; it could be 30 minutes or a semi-regular meeting, to schedule once or twice a month. If the purpose of this meeting is to share KPIs, the manual review doesn't need to happen every week with the right documents in place. The length of an effective meeting should reflect how many people are involved and how in-depth the project is. In general, meetings should never last more than 60 minutes because people might lose focus and interest. Keep it short and to the point!

Are you speaking up in this meeting?

If you are not speaking up or have buy-in in these meetings, then maybe you are not needed in the meetings. Meetings are expensive and time-consuming. Avoid inviting anyone who is not needed to achieve the meeting objective. We also need to be sure that we have enough participants for a productive open discussion with diverse perspectives. A good meeting strikes a balance between minimizing attendees and maximizing the creative potential of a group.

Stay focus with the objective of the meeting

It is a good practice to establish ground rules in meeting introductions to minimize side discussions, and everyone knows the core topic at hand with the early distributed agenda and discussion time for each deliverable. If side discussions begin to happen, kindly re-route the team back to the objectives and promise to revisit those ideas in the future.

Action items from the meeting

Any action items from the meeting should be properly documented and communicated. Determine who’s responsible for them and also set target deadlines for completion. It is also productive to set how the team is going to follow up on these action items and keep track of it.

Check out the cost of your schedule meetings

You can’t imagine how expensive your meetings are, check out this meeting cost calculator by Harvard Business Review on how much we are spending on meetings, and how much we could be saving with these tips.

If you have any doubts or queries, feel free to reach out to any of us here at DNA Recruit Partners. Our team is happy to assist you with market insights, learning and development advices, and career consultation.

Book for a free consultation today!


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