VOICES In the Trenches
Meeting With a Mission
How to hold well-run meetings that actually boost morale.
By Antoine Gerschel and Lawrence Polsky
Antoine Gerschel and Lawrence Polsky
are managing partners at PeopleNRG.
com, in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
IN OUR WORK WITH TEAMS AROUND THE WORLD, we’ve found
nearly every team has complaints about meetings. But when you’re managing projects, meetings are unavoidable.
We recently conducted a survey of 351 businesspeople that found
well-run meetings positively correlated to productive teams and happy
employees. So what’s the key to happier, more productive meetings?
Often it is a simple matter of separating your meetings into three distinct
types and keeping the content focused
on that one type only. Mixing different
types invariably creates confusion and
frustration, makes meetings lose focus
and go overtime, and most important,
prevents you from getting the best
from your team members.
For instance, a personal check-in, a
discussion about a task at hand, a standard status meeting and a brainstorming meeting about improving a process
are each very different. They need different preparation, are associated with
very different emotions, and require a
different amount of time and discipline.
We recommend you separate your
meetings into the following three types:
n HHAY Meetings—These are short
“hello, how are you?” meetings (seven
minutes or less) to check in with fellow project team members and see
how each person is doing.
n Queue Meetings—These are the meetings to discuss specific issues
you have at hand, focused on key decisions that need to be made.
n Innovation Meetings—This is time set aside to discuss ways to
improve strategy, teamwork, communication or other areas, and/or
develop new ideas or processes.
Project meetings can easily be bogged down by HHAY topics and
long discussions about how the organization ought to function. Having
a separation among these three types will keep your meetings on task,
without unnecessary interruptions, without going over time and without
participants losing engagement (and happiness).
The more you create meeting happiness, the less your project team
will dread meetings. Here are a few more keys to making sure your meetings are on track:
Nine Words: Meeting happiness results when
each get-together is effective, efficient and uplifting. When a topic for a different meeting comes
up, simply say, “That is a good topic for our ____
meeting.” Anyone in the meeting can do it.
Keep Score: Successful people like to experience
progress and know what’s left to do in order to
succeed. You can leverage this to bring out the best
in your project team and make meetings a positive
time. The simplest and most powerful way to keep
score is with your ongoing action item list. As you
get things done, don’t simply check them off—take
time to celebrate successes. Short moments of
congratulation and positive reflection feel good, are
fun and make the hard work feel worthwhile. Plus,
celebration boosts team spirit.
Check in Before You Check Out: High-perform-ing teams take a few minutes to learn and improve.
Use the last three to five minutes for a quick “how
did the meeting go?” Here’s a checklist to help your
team evaluate meetings:
n Were objectives met?
n Did we use our time well?
n Did everyone prepare appropriately?
n Were decisions made, with a good process?
n Do we have clear commitments and action items?
n Could and did everybody participate?
n Were people concise?
n Were achievement and progress acknowledged?
n Did we follow our rules of staying off devices
(laptop, phone, etc.)?
One note: None of these questions are for the
HHAY meetings. HHAY meetings are unscripted, no
agenda, no minutes, no debriefs. Short and sweet! PM