I was recently invited to engage a leadership team on communication training. In the planning conversations, it became clear that the desired outcome was to align the team(s) for more collaborative and efficient meetings going forward. Sounds simple enough.
The most precious resource in our lives, and in any organization, is time. And where we ask people to spend their time is where we also ask them to spend their energy. Unfortunately, we have a default setting of inviting people to meetings. Most executives that I coach are overwhelmed by the number of meetings they are invited to attend – some being double, and triple booked! They are then unable to get “work” done because they are in meetings all the time. Somehow, we have unconsciously adopted meetings as a methodology for getting work done. I have rarely had the experience of any executive communicating to me that they had the most productive day ever – being in meetings!
It is time that we become better stewards of our time and energy by co-creating intentional meetings. If we are going to do so, we must break away from the habitual default setting of calling a meeting. The best place to begin in doing this is to ask the question of why you want to meet. What are you desiring to co-create with people’s time and participation? What is your desired outcome of meeting? If you do not have a clear desired outcome, you may not be acting as a good leader and steward of people’s time and energy.
Is your desired outcome to only share information? You may not need a meeting at all. Be clear in your organization that you will keep people informed of necessary information through the agreed upon communication channels and/or platforms. And if there are less meetings to attend, they might have a better opportunity to consume the information. Be clear about your expectations for what you want people to know as “essential” information.
There are so many elements to meetings that we could explore, and in the interest of your time – let us briefly discuss the length of meetings. I suggest that you move any sixty-minute meeting to forty-five minutes or less. There is no organizational magic to a sixty-minute meeting! My experience is that the time allocated = the time used. You would then give people time to: take a bio break, respond to a few emails, prepare for the next meeting, etc. What a welcome gift for you and them!
As we begin to see that the end of this current pandemic is in sight, I suggest that you use this organizational opportunity to discuss your previous meetings habits and co-create intentional meetings – ones that steward your most precious resource for being productive and connected.
“We are increasingly busy with almost every aspect of our lives, because we keep adding without ever subtracting”. ~ Kevin Buck