How to Use Meetings to Amplify Productivity

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Team meetings have become such a normal part of how we do business that it can be easy to take their potential benefits for granted.

Look at it this way: if you’ve ever been in charge of a project that stalled because there was confusion among your ranks, you may have made several unsuccessful attempts at trying to clear things up.

Often, it seems like a single email to the entire team should have the desired effect.

Yet, most of the time, there’s no surer antidote than holding regular team meetings until the problem is resolved.

Just be sure you’re following these four pointers so that you’re actually bringing clarity to the project and not making matters worse.

Plan Your Meetings

Use Team Meetings to Hold Yourself Accountable

Self-accountability is important for two reasons:

  • As a manager, if you don’t hold yourself accountable, it may be a long time before anyone else does
  • Holding yourself accountable shows your team that you expect just as much from yourself as you do from them

Meetings are an excellent opportunity for everyone on the team to check in with one another. Managers can set the tone by making sure that they include themselves in the process.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with holding your people accountable, but don’t forget about yourself. Give attendees the opportunity to ask you about any tasks you’re working on that directly affect them.

Software for Meetings

Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Software

Software can be a huge help, but always remember that it can’t actually do the bulk of the work that needs to be done.

One huge problem with high-powered software is that it can give the illusion of total automation. One day, it appears as though everything is getting done. The next day, you step out from behind your computer screen and find things are not going as planned.

Again, I’m not suggesting managers should stop leveraging software to improve their workflows.

However, if you don’t implement a cadence of accountability, no amount of fancy tech is going to save you. I learned that from reading The 4 Disciplines of Execution, a book I highly recommend.

No matter how advanced software gets, people will always need to know that if they don’t do their part, there will be a very awkward silence at some point in the near future.

How Meetings Are Held Isn’t Important

I know many managers who will postpone meetings or insist on inconvenient times just so everyone can be in the same room when they’re held.

But there’s one small catch: this stubborn dedication to in-person meetings comes at the cost of delaying solutions or even continuing without some members of the team who otherwise can’t make it.

Meetings don’t need to be held in person to be impactful. Nowadays, it’s easy to hold these meeting by phone or over Skype.

All you need is to have an agreed upon time when all parties concerned can report to one another. Let the attendees know about any updates you require from them before you hold the meeting.

Dont let Meetings become Bottlenecks

Keep the Team Meeting from Becoming a Bottleneck

Here’s the most important part: meetings can turn into too much of a good thing. This is why I actually recommend against letting them find a reoccurring home on your team’s agenda.

Yes, they can definitely break through the type of confusion that can cripple a project, but they can also stifle productivity. Meetings can become extra lunch breaks (minus the food)–people just sitting around staring off into the distance.

So what’s the secret? Hold meetings only when you have something worth talking about and only invite those people for whom the information is relevant. Again, this shouldn’t turn into nap time.

Furthermore, by only holding team meetings when they are absolutely necessary, the information you cover is going to automatically feel more important to the attendees. After all, it must be or you wouldn’t have called a meeting.

Breathing New Life into your Traditional Team Meeting

Frankly, if you shook your head at any point when reading these ideas, I don’t blame you. They didn’t occur to me overnight and there was definitely a time when I would have been just as skeptical as you.

But I can assure you they work. I have seen firsthand how powerful meetings can be when they are held the right way.

My suggestion is to start with one of the four pointers above. Implement it and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much clarity it can immediately bring to your projects.