[trx_quote cite=”#” title=”Mandy Green”]The problem isn’t that meetings suck, it’s that we suck at running them.[/trx_quote]

Meetings that Get Results

For coaches, we need to have meetings.  We need to meet to make sure our staff is on the same page, to sort through recruiting, to make sure important work is getting done on time and by the right people, to talk X’s and O’s, we meet with our team together and individually, etc.
According to Cameron Herold in his book Meetings Suck, your meetings hold the potential to drive alignment within your staff, team, or business; they give direction; generate energy, focus, and creativity; and inspire your people to elevate your program or business to the next level.
“The problem isn’t that meetings suck,” says Herold “it’s that we suck at running them.”
I hear from coaches all the time that they just dread their staff meetings because they either last way too long, some don’t seem to have a point to them, or nothing is ever resolved.
I want you to think back to your last few meetings.  Did any of the following happen by you or by one of your coaching colleagues?

  1. Somebody arrived late so it forced the group to start the meeting over just to get them up-to-speed.
  2. Somebody took a phone call while still in the room.
  3. Somebody got distracted and checked their e-mail.
  4. Coaches were engaging in side conversations.
  5. Nobody was taking notes.
  6. Belaboring each point by talking too much.
  7. Interrupting others with “better ideas”.
  8. Not coming prepared to contribute.
  9. Responding to every comment with a quip.
  10. There is somebody who does not speak up.

Did I hit any of your buttons with this list?  If you or your staff are guilty of any of these common meeting mistakes, it might be a great time to take a step back and reevaluate and establish new code of conduct standards for your meetings.
I learned this exercise from Laura Stack, author of The Exhaustion Cure.  Request the opportunity to lead an exercise aimed at making your meetings more productive and less draining.  Start by telling your colleagues that you would like to go over some guidelines or protocols about the meetings that you run.  Standing in front of a white board or flip chart, ask the group, “If you were king or queen of the world, what rules would you make about meetings, to make them as productive as possible?  What makes you crazy about our meetings? How do we waste time? “How can we make our time together more productive?”” and list the statements people make.
Improving the quality of meetings takes work. For things to change, you all need to be honest about how things really are or nothing will really change.
Type these up, title it “Code of conduct,” put it on a piece of paper, and take it to a print shop to blow up into a poster sized piece of paper.  Frame it and hang it where you have meetings.
Since having meetings is a necessary evil, we just need to train our teams to get results with meetings.  As long as you have to have meetings, you might as well do them well.
Before you plan another meeting, here are a few of the meeting guidelines that I try to follow:

  1. Start and stop on time. The leader of the meeting has to set the pace. Start the meeting on time whether everyone is there or not. End the meeting on time, whether you are done or not. If you create these “hard edges” on your meetings, you are more likely to achieve your outcomes.
  2. Focus your attention. Demand that others focus theirs. Stay in the conversation. No laptops. No phones. No side conversations. All of these things make meetings longer and less productive.
  3. Be fully engaged. By that, I mean the following: be energetic. The most important thing you bring to any meeting (really to any encounter with anyone) is your energy. Your energy level impacts others. Just like a boat leaves a wake behind it, you, as a leader, leave a wake behind you. So you have to be intentional about your energy. Choose the attitude. Choose the energy that best serves your purpose.

The more efficient you can make your meetings, the better the return on our time and energy investment into them.