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Making Meetings Effective: Emerging Leaders Series

“Meeting Fatigue.” Ever heard of it? Ever experienced it?

Today, many corporate organizations feature a “meeting culture” where meetings consume an overabundance of valuable blocks of their employees’ time. These meetings have become increasingly part of their work days, whether in-person or through a virtual tool like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. With these developments, especially in recent years, we are finding more and more leaders and individual contributors experiencing a feeling of fatigue, annoyance, and dread at the sheer volume and drudgery of these meetings.

To compound these feelings is the fact that many of these gatherings deliver little impact, action, or improvement in results. Many sessions are filled with information download, social conversation, or repetitive action items that don’t create action. And as Gapology is all about creating action, we’ve looked at this troubling epidemic of meeting fatigue and put together the following five steps to help overcome it to make meetings far more effective.

  1. Establish a Purpose, Agenda, and Objective. Define why you want to meet. Clarify what you will discuss. Be intentional about exactly what actions you will expect as a result of the meeting. Without these things, most meetings can be summed up and distributed in an email.

  2. Create a Rhythm. Work with other leaders to create a standardized rhythm to meetings. Define a cadence for them. Define the flow of them. Build repetition and a process so your team will understand when they will occur, what the meetings will typically entail, their role, and what will be expected from them. This can spike productivity, reduce stress and anxiety around them, and create a flow to everyone’s week and month.

  3. Be a Model for Others. Set an example and model the behavior you expect from others in meetings. Stand out positively. Show others how to engage in the conversation and contribute to the purpose or objective of the meeting. As an emerging leader, this is a great place to shine!

    1. If you are a participant, prepare for and participate in the meeting. If you are an introvert, challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone a little each week until you feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts.

    2. If you are the leader of the meeting, recognize participation and encourage sharing. Keep the conversation open and remove any fear. Intentionally engage those more introverted and ask for their thoughts, as they need time to formulate their thoughts and the space to share them.

  4. Follow-up on Actions Agreed Upon. Recap commitments and assignments in writing with due dates etc. Reach out to responsible parties to ensure there are no lingering questions. Establish timelines and check-in dates to ensure no one is lagging behind. Revisit previous commitments and assignments at the beginning of each meeting to drive importance around them.

  5. Celebrate People and Accomplishments. Make meetings a source of recognition for accomplishing what was agreed to in previous sessions. Build in applause, standing ovations, or awards, if possible. Building positivity into your meetings encourages a fun and exciting culture. Save targeting coaching or counseling for private conversations. If the team, as a whole, needs coaching or counseling, be selective about when you will provide it so the whole meeting isn’t consumed by the negative message.

Another tip to consider is leveraging the formula we use in our Habit Ladder. Of course, the Habit Ladder is an excellent tool designed to ensure that the Training Root Solution is leveraged to close the Knowledge Gap, but it can also be used here with a couple of minor adjustments.

  • The bottom of the ladder is “Communication.” Communicate the message in a method best suitable for the audience and desired outcome. Be strategic here.

  • The next step of the ladder is “Understanding.” Ensure and validate that the team understands your message fully.

  • The next step of the ladder is “Agreement.” Validate that the team agrees to the message and any action items expected. Speak to each person to ensure this occurs.

  • The next step of the ladder is “Practice.” Practice in the traditional Habit Ladder sense can be adjusted to be “Execution” to fit the application of effective meetings. Ensure that execution of the action items agreed upon actually takes place. In meetings, ask for feedback and share the actions’ results.

  • The final step of the ladder is “Habit.” Successful Habits built from the meeting’s action items are our goal here. As a result, we can celebrate people who contributed to successful habits and team accomplishments.

You can do it. You can make meetings memorable, exciting, and, most importantly, effective. Use the tips shared here. They can be powerful tools to identify and close Performance Gaps and drive results by creating action that produces the momentum needed to excel.

*Listen to our full Gapology Radio podcast episode on this topic here:


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