Are meetings taking over your life, and maybe the lives of your team members as well? As a leader, it’s worth asking how so many meetings managed to sneak onto your calendar and whether you can do anything about it. Robert Keidel, clinical professor of management at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business has looked into why meetings should or shouldn’t be held and how you can make the most of this time.
Holding meetings is a key way to get face or voice time with others in the company. Meetings can also be a huge waste of time. Step back and think about what team members could be doing if they weren’t stuck in a meeting listening to the guy who loves the sound of his own voice going on and on. To cut back on the waste of company resources, think before you actually schedule a meeting.
Keidel excludes training and education meetings from his discussion. When people gather for training or professional development, they have a defined purpose and should be following an agenda set by the trainer or leader. In-person training is an efficient way to deliver information and the group setting may help to reinforce team learning. So don't hesitate to put these types of meetings on the schedule.
When it comes to non-training events, a meeting should accomplish one of three objectives, says Keidel. His most interesting point, I think, is about teams. For example, a meeting which outwardly appears to be about a product launch can actually be an effective way to strength team dynamics. If you’re responsible for overseeing a project that will result in a key deliverable for the company or a client, you might find that team members come from multiple departments. In a large organization, team members may be meeting each other – in person or virtually – for the first time. Use the initial meeting to outline the details of the project and then solicit feedback. Ask everyone what they hope to contribute to the team and to the project. Then, ask each person to share one personal detail about herself. This outreach will start the process of improving team dynamics.
Keidel's other recommendations about when to hold meetings can be read here.