Meetings – that word seems to be synonymous with wasted time, interference with “real work”, boredom, and etc.
Patrick Lencioni takes exception to this in his book, Death by Meeting. His primary contention is that meetings are vital to the proper functioning of an organization; the problem is, we don’t know how to do meetings. I would recommend reading his book and going to his site and downloading some of his tools on how to improve meetings.
One thing we have done is to develop a “meeting protocol” to improve the effectiveness of our meetings. Following is our meeting protocol. I would be interested in your comments.
- Meetings are a fundamental tool for the effective functioning of any organization. They are key to us accomplishing the work to which we have been called. As such, they should be viewed as a vital part of our work and not as an interruption of our work.
- Prayer should be a vital component of all of our meetings . Not only should meetings begin and end with prayer, prayer should be interspersed throughout the meeting as appropriate.
- Be clear about the purpose of the meeting, the type of meeting and the desired outcomes.
- Carefully consider who should attend a meeting. Only those truly critical to the subject at hand should be invited.
- Prepare a written agenda & distribute it ahead of time. Two considerations:
- Prioritize the agenda items in terms of importance.
- Assign realistic amounts of time to each subject. We often have too many items on our agendas.
- Clearly assign roles for the meeting.
- Preparation for the meeting is a given. If you are making a presentation, your handouts should be distributed in plenty of time beforehand for the participants to review the materials. Also, you should review any meeting materials you receive beforehand.
- The time of others is a precious resource. As good stewards and out of respect for our co-laborers in Christ meetings should begin and end on time.
- The start time of a meeting is when the meeting actually begins – do not view that as your arrival time.
- If you are going to be late or have to leave early – please inform the meeting organizer beforehand.
- Typically, meetings should not last more than 90 minutes. If so, there should be regular breaks at no more than 90 minute intervals & healthy refreshments provided.
- You are expected to fully engage in the meetings. A collaborative approach to our meetings is the standard – fully assertive & fully cooperative seeking to arrive at the best decision.
- Cell phones should be turned off or set to silent or vibrate. Do not accept calls during a meeting unless you are expecting an emergency call.
- The use of your laptop during a meeting for meeting related purposes is encouraged. Using your laptop to catch up on e-mail or to surf the Internet during a meeting is disrespectful to the other participants and does not reflect our standard of esteeming others.
- Stick to the subject at hand and take the agenda seriously. Develop a “parking lot” and store distractions or ideas not germane to the discussion there to be discussed at a more appropriate time.
- Side conversations during a meeting are rude & disruptive. One speaker at a time.
- Don’t leave a meeting without summarizing the results and confirming actions to be taken.
- Minutes are to be kept of meetings especially noting action items. Minutes should be distributed within two working days of the meeting. The minutes should clearly state the actions taken / decision made as well as who is responsible for the execution of the action items.
- Constantly evaluate the effectiveness of our meetings and be constantly seeking ways in which to improve in the utilization of this important tool.
- Again, meetings are not an interruption of our work; they are one of the most effective tools for us to accomplish our work. However, as with any powerful tool, improper use or poor use of the tool can be counterproductive. Skillful application of a powerful tool yields powerful results.
So, how do you ensure that you are being agood steward of your people’s time in meetings?