159. The 9 Steps To Keep Your Meetings On (Am)Track
In an ideal world, a management meeting is like an Amtrak train ride: everybody is in their assigned seat, all traveling in the same direction, on the same track, going to the same location.
In reality, many management meetings are more like bumper cars.
Everybody seems to align when the meeting begins, but soon enough people are driving their own agenda, smashing into other peoples’ agendas, and traveling in disjointed circles. The meeting continues with this quasi-organized chaos until the buzzer rings and everybody stands up and goes their own way.
Conductoring Your Meetings
Inevitably, there are people in management meetings who continually derail the goal; they bring a bumper car to an Amtrak ride.
I know, I’ve been one of those people.
They don’t always recognize that they are derailing the meeting because, hey, they are focused on their own job and their own goals and they want to ensure they speak their mind.
When there’s no mutual goal for a meeting, each person makes up their own individual goals.
Without proper guidance, a meeting can devolve into unproductive tangents. Bumper car buffoonery.
As the meeting’s leader, it is your responsibility to act as the conductor of the train. You need to make sure everybody stays on one train going down one track.
If somebody is veering off the proper line, you need to guide them back to the primary purpose.
That’s the easy part.
Laying The Tracks
As the leader of the meeting, it is your job to make sure everyone knows the purpose of the meeting, the ultimate goal, each person’s responsibility towards achieving that goal, and the timetable.
The most challenging part of a meeting happens before the meeting ever occurs.
It takes practice, finesse, and planning to keep a meeting productive and on track. There are 9 steps to take in order to be the best meeting conductor you can be:
1. Make sure there is a clear goal that is relevant to everybody in the meeting
2. Make sure the goal can’t be handled by an email or phone call 👈🏽👈🏽👈🏽
2a. Seriously, go back to #2 above. Do you really need to have a meeting about it?
3. Make sure you have all the right people attending
4. Make sure everybody understands their role in attending
5. Make sure everybody is prepared. They must review the facts ahead of time.
6. Make sure somebody documents the key discussion points
7. Make sure everybody has an opportunity to speak
8. Make sure there are explicit action items with owners and deadlines
9. If another meeting is needed, try to schedule it there (if this wastes too much time, do it later)
In the end, don’t forget the memorable words by the great author, Paulo Coehlo:
“Life is the train, not the station”.
I’m not really sure what it means, but it sounds profound and I wanted to end with a good quote.
“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings."
- Thomas Sowell
Doh! There’s a crisis in Ukraine. Wait, what…? (timing is everything)
Dr. Dance. This astrophysics thesis. (plie)
Prime. So what are you doing with your Amazon boxes? (building)
Another Useless Website. Don’t be an idiot. (click here)
This Week’s Book Review
Lessons in Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus
My rating: 10 of 10
I’m honored to get to read books prior to release (thank you NetGalley). Every now and then, I stumble onto a book from a first-time author that I know is destined for Best Seller status. It was obvious with “The Maid” by Nita Prose and it’s obvious with “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus.
Elizabeth Zott, the protagonist of this book, is a strong woman. She is one of the most powerful and memorable of recent fiction, in the same vein as (where’d you go) Bernadette Fox, and (the marvelous) Mrs Maisel... read more
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