Last week I talked about the different types of meetings as well as how to prepare for a successful, efficient meeting with the right people, the right agenda, and the desired outcomes. Today we’ll finish up this two-part blog by reviewing some bonuses to holding successful meetings, a quick list of rules of engagement for meetings, and some common meeting mistakes we see or hear about here at the Academy.
By-products of successful meetings include:
- RAPPORT. It gives a team or small group a chance to check in with each other eye-ball to eye-ball. In this day and age, everything is Skyped, Instant Messaged, sent by text or emailed. Having face time today requires some planning and that element should be considered when deciding when to have a meeting. It should not be the reason to have a meeting, it should be a bonus outcome of a good meeting — and keep in mind that not every meeting may have the luxury of warm and fuzzy time.
- EXTRA IDEAS. Ideas may blossom in discussions. The meeting shouldn’t be so rushed that a certain amount of brainstorming can’t take place. But there should also be a balance. Not every meeting is a brainstorming meeting.
- CLARITY ON NEXT STEPS, DEADLINES AND CHAMPIONS. Making sure everyone is on the same page of a project should be a bonus to taking out some time to discuss the status and upcoming deadlines / assignments for a project.
- OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS ROADBLOCKS OR CHALLENGES. Getting everyone in the same place at the same time and focused on the same challenges or issues that come up for the team can be the most efficient way to conduct some strategic brainstorming and problem solving.
Rules of Engagement:
- Make your meetings short and efficient!
- Have an agenda.
- Start on time.
- Someone must be in charge of the meeting, but that doesn’t mean that person does all the talking.
- Prepare participants and equip them for success in each meeting (make sure they have the agenda either ahead of time or immediately when the meeting begins).
- Create an upfront agreement at the beginning about agenda and desired outcome.
- Stick to your agenda.
- Summarize and get agreement on action items, deadlines and champions.
FREQUENT MEETING MISTAKES:
- Not having an agenda or not following an agenda that exists.
- Attendees leave without knowing specifically what the next steps are for everyone involved.
- Allowing the meeting to drag on, well after the agenda is covered.
- One person dominates the meeting and everyone isn’t able to participate.
- Having the wrong people in the meeting. Think clearly about who needs to participate in the entire agenda. Is it possible that only a few items on the agenda require everyone? Could or should the meeting be broken into parts that include different team members?
- Building rapport turns into the major portion of the gathering. A chat, “catch me up on a variety of things,” isn’t a meeting. Once in a while that private connection time is a good thing, but it should not be a typical format for meetings.
- Participants do not take notes or schedule the next steps to accomplish what was agreed upon.
- Not setting the stage. If the meeting is likely to uncover emotions, argument or disagreement, the prep needs to make sure that is taken into account prior to conducting the meeting. Meetings that turn into brawls or emotional situations aren’t productive.
- Having too many meetings! When there are too many meetings on a topic something is wrong with the planning and execution of past meetings.
- Having meetings because they’ve always been on the calendar. When meetings lose their mojo – stop having them. Back up and figure out which ingredient is missing when they stop feeling productive, and if it’s even necessary to continue having meetings about that specific topic.
Take all the ideas I’ve discussed in the last two blogs (if you missed the first part of this blog, you can check it out here) and see where you might be able to tighten up the process of having meetings in your office. Let me know if you’re able to save your firm some time (and headache) by taking a closer look at how you’re spending your most valuable asset: your time.
Have an idea or point to add to this blog? Let us know by responding in the comments below!
Happy long weekend to all of you,
Chief Operating Officer
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555