Sale team meetings are vital to build team cohesiveness, connect people, share best practices, discuss challenges, and celebrate collective success.
Like me, you probably have attended countless business meetings. Some were probably inspirational, some educational, few memorable and a good majority were plain boring. Some were well organized, structured, and well delivered, while many had no agenda, started late, went overtime, abruptly ended, or lacked purpose and focus.
Many employees, middle managers, and executives consider at least two-third of meetings to be a waste of time, yet they continue to tolerate it.
A good meeting can inspire and spur productivity, but it must be structured, timely and have a clear purpose and an outcome.
According to online meeting provider Fuze, unproductive meetings cost companies an estimated $37 billion a year. It wastes 15% of the organization’s productive time. Middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings while upper management spends as much as 50% of their time in meetings.
Executives believe that more than 67% of the organization’s meetings are failures. Additionally, remote participants are often disengaged because of the lack of body language that accounts for as much as 80% of our message absorption.
I attended many lousy, unproductive meetings, and energy killing sessions where leaders rumble incessantly out of despair, frustration, and occasional desperation. Many coalesce the team to create awareness and solve a problem without realizing that they are part of it.
Most organizations rely on meetings to set direction, convey changes, announce new strategies and tactics, and disseminate information. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, you probably have attended several meetings; they are an essential part of communication in the job.
A good meeting can:
- Keep employees open-minded and in sync despite disagreements
- Define problems root causes and evaluate solutions
- Align people behind a designed believable strategy
Disciplined meetings can add value to the organization; they are real work and should be part of productive work time, not a downtime session, or a therapeutic session to vent or release steam. It’s common to hear a leader stating, “the meeting is over; let’s get to work.” As if the meeting was a time to relax and kickback.
A meeting that doesn’t have a strict agenda and doesn’t add real value should be eradicated.
Good meetings should have:
- Clear purpose and goals
- Structured agenda and lay out a path to follow
- Participant role and time frames
1. Respect employees’ time. Aim to accomplish twice as much in half the time required. Cut unnecessary information, send 24 hours in advance an email reflecting your questions along with the details you will cover during your meeting. Allow people to absorb information, reflect on potential solutions and ways of improvement, and respond via email with their ideas and insight.
2. Time is money. Stay focused on productivity; use only the necessary time. If you schedule a one-hour meeting and you cover your agenda in half the time, free up your people quickly.
3. Ninety-minute rule. Never exceed 90-minute sessions. People lose focus. Cover the essentials and lose the fat. Meetings are productivity-poor and mentally draining, so keep them short and sweet.
4. Stay the course. Naturally, people will stray and get off-topic. Stay in control and steer back the conversation to the topic by reminding people to stick to the agenda and time frames. Off-topic subjects should be discussed at a different time.
5. Seek an outcome. Meetings must have a purpose and an outcome when applicable. Set the right expectation ahead of time on what you are to accomplish during the session.
6. Measure progress. The key is to convert meeting ideas into actions that add value to the company. Rotate collecting and sending a summary of distilled ideas and proposed solutions. Draft a shared action plan and measure its progress and results. People love to see that their ideas, time, and energy are being implemented.
7. Be honest. People naturally refrain from saying things that may be taken out of context or interpreted differently. Create an email inbox where employees can freely and anonymously respond without fear of repercussions or embarrassment. This strategy unshackles people’s minds, and allow the company to benefit from ideas and insight they wouldn’t usually have access to.
8. Seek perpetual improvement. Pay close attention to the way your meetings are conducted. Request frequent comments, ideas, and insight on how to improve your sessions. Eliminate what doesn’t work quickly, incorporate new ideas and approaches. The key to getting better is to allow anonymous feedback to improve yourself as a meeting leader.
9. Lead from behind. A rotation system can lead to exciting discoveries and pushes everyone to take the meeting seriously, knowing that they will have to drive it soon. Never impose your authority when the leading person is in charge. Tolerate mistakes and allow for a learning curve.
10. Leaders speak last. Junior employees learn by observing and listening; great leaders are perpetual junior learners. Meetings are about people and outcomes, not the leader.
Some meetings are informative others are about decision-making. Decision-making can vary from leader-driven, group weighted, or consensual through members’ voting; the key is to set upfront expectations to eliminate time-wasting. Define a decision path and stick to keeping your meeting focused without preventing employee’s creativity and stifling out-of-the-box thinking.
Meetings that deliver bad news
- Time, it right. Reserve bad news meetings to the end of the day or a Friday afternoon. Bad news disrupts people’s morale and impacts productivity. You want to be honest with your people, but you need to think ahead of time on how to frame the delivery of the message.
- Be direct. You don’t have to sugarcoat the reality of the matter without withholding vital information. Employees are resilient; they can handle bad news as long as it is delivered with empathy, humility, and sincerity.
- Question handling. Allow your employees to ask questions. Anticipate questions and think ahead of the best way to communicate your responses in an honest, sensitive way.
- Next step. Bad news creates fear and anxieties. Explain what one should expect next, what kind of impact it will have on the affected people and what’s your and the company’s vision for how to deal with it now and in the future.
- Expectations. Define new expectations and the course of action going forward. People are creative; they can handle unimaginable hardship as long as they know they have a leader who cares and has a vision toward a better future.
Disciplined meetings add value to the organization; unplanned encounters are a waste of time and should be eliminated. A meeting should always have an agenda. Meetings are work time and should be treated as such. It’s critical that every meeting should have a purpose, a time frame, a conclusion, and an outcome with follow-up steps to build on.
The leader should anticipate questions that may be asked and need to prepare to deliver value and keep employees interested, engaged and excited about what they do collectively.
Thanks for reading!