What comes to mind when you hear the word “meeting” during your workday? Does it bring positive connotations of connecting with your colleagues and making strides to complete projects? Or does sheer panic and terror and set in, feeling like you’ll have yet another piece of precious time wasted? Why has “meet” become a 4-letter word in so many organizations? We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. You CAN keep your employees engaged and collaborating, even though folks can’t get together in person. The way to do it is with effective meeting cadence.
If you want to start a cadence in your own organization, it’s important to define common meeting rhythms and decide which ones you want to incorporate. Here are some to consider:
- Daily – Best used for quick check-ins or huddles, not lengthy discussions. Try to keep these under 15 minutes if possible so participants don’t dread attending each day.
- Weekly or Bi-Weekly – Great for supervisor-direct report one-on-ones, as well as committee or team meetings to prioritize work for the week(s) ahead. 30min – 1 hour in length.
- Monthly – Generally more strategic in nature and larger in size. Could be to review the prior month’s metrics and look ahead to the next month’s as well. 30min – 2 hours in length.
- Quarterly – Again, strategic and larger in size. Good for reorienting on annual goals and track progress. There is value in getting folks together who don’t normally see each other as well. These could range from 1 hour – ½ a day depending on your business.
- Annually – Company kick-off’s and/or celebrations. These are a great time to focus on the fun aspects of your culture and reinvigorate employees. We recommend a full day, off-site so there are less distractions.
At Point to Point, we utilize all the different rhythms described above. So how come our employees don’t shudder at the sight of their calendars? It’s because we make conscious effort to ensure these meetings are efficient, effective, and only held when necessary. Here are some of the ways we keep ourselves from experiencing any crippling calendar catastrophes:
- Set an agenda and stick to it – Consider using a template for each meeting that you can fill in with topics beforehand. It can also include space to document action items as they come up, as well as items that need to be remembered for the next meeting. Most importantly, stick to your agenda. Obviously, things may come up that you didn’t plan for ahead of time. But make sure they are on topic and in line with your objective for the meeting. If they’re not, table them for another meeting or address them offline.
- Take notes (And send them out after) – Take on the responsibility as leader of the meeting, or delegate it to someone so you can focus on engaging with the other attendees. Either way, having someone taking notes means that others in the room can focus on active participation rather than having their heads in their legal pads. Clean them up and send them out to everyone in a timely fashion (same day is ideal) so everyone can reference what was discussed and any action items assigned to them.
- Keep the meeting as small as possible – You may think you’re doing a service by inviting every possible person to a meeting who you think may be affected by its content. We find that the opposite is true. The more voices in a meeting, the cloudier the message becomes. If a team of three people is tasked with a project, they should be trusted to complete the project without the input of ten others. If they need input on a certain portion or the completed product, they can seek that input from a colleague offline, then take it to the group during their next regular meeting.
- Reflect on your rhythm regularly – Once you have a regular schedule in place, it’s important to check in with it occasionally. We’ve never been fans of doing things just because “that’s how they’ve been done,” and this practice actively fights against that instinct. If it becomes apparent that a meeting needs to be more or less frequent (or no longer serves your needs), you can adapt accordingly.
Okay, let’s say you’re buying what we’re selling, and you want to incorporate some meeting rhythms in your organization. Just like any good habit, it’s best to start small and then consistently add to it over time. The easiest meeting to incorporate is probably one-on-ones with your direct reports. Set a recurring meeting and stick to the schedule. Once everyone is comfortable with the cadence, start adding others into the mix. Before you know it, you’ll have a steady stream of meaningful, productive meetings that contribute to employee morale and company success.
Until next time, stay safe everybody!