Prime Advantage Blog

Make Your Meetings More Productive

Guest Contributor on Jan 28, 2016 10:00:00 AM

As part of Prime Advantage, Endorsed Suppliers have been invited to share their insights on the present and future of manufacturing success. In this post, Karin Hurt, from Let's Grow Leaders, discusses ideas to get your team thinking strategically.


When was the last time you had the following experience? You went to a meeting where you had invigorating discussions, examined alternatives, came up with a cool plan of action, and everyone left the meeting feeling motivated. But when the team got together six weeks later, there were sideways glances and whispers saying, “Did you do that thing we talked about?” A quick shake of the head and you realize that the great ideas everyone came up with have languished.

The prior meeting, the discussions, the new meeting – all of it – are a waste because there was no follow-through. In fact, it’s actually worse than doing nothing because now you’ve created negative energy --that feeling that “it doesn’t matter what we talk about because nothing really happens around here.” That corrosive malaise will eat away at your people and leave them looking for excuses to take your next meeting via conference call so they can multi-task and "get real work done."

Every meeting you hold should produce activities that move results forward, build momentum, and increase morale with healthy relationships. You can achieve all this in just minutes at the end of every meeting. Here's how:

End each meeting with commitments to the following:

1. Who will do what?

There are actually two questions here:

  1. What is to be done?

  2. Who will do it?

Every task must have a specific person who is responsible to complete it. Smaller decisions might only have one or two answers to this question. Larger strategic initiatives might have an entire work plan that outlines dozens of tasks and the people responsible.

2. By when?

This one is straightforward. What is the agreed upon completion date for individual tasks? When these deadlines are shared and publicly available, everyone is more likely to meet them.

3. How will we know?

This question moves your meeting from good intentions to real-world impact. It’s also the one managers most frequently ignore. It closes the loop from intention to action and creates momentum without you having to spend hours every day tracking down action steps. When someone completes a task, ask yourself questions about what they should do next:

  • Do they need to pass the results to another person or group?

  • Should they update the team and let them know?

  • Will they make a presentation of their findings?

  • Do they report completion in a common area or software?

The specific answers depend on the task and project. But what matters most is that the accountability and next step are “baked into” the decision. Everyone will know what he or she is responsible to do, the team will know if it’s been completed, and no one will be left waiting around for information they need.

You can combine these commitments into one sentence: "Who does what, by when, and how will we know?" The answers will give you a formula for a successful meeting that produces clarity, accountability, and results. In fact, you can ask these questions whether you are the positional leader of a group or not. It's a great way to establish yourself as a leader who gets things done – people notice when you produce clarity, accountability, and results. Don’t let the simplicity of these questions fool you into not using them. These are the most important minutes you’ll spend to make your meetings much more productive.

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Topics: Talent and Leadership

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