“Kill the status meeting,” some management gurus cry. It sounds good – but is it a reality in today’s business world?
“Few events do more to suck the life and energy out of a team than the boss’s weekly status meeting,” huffs the ever-entertaining leadership consultant Art Petty.
Beyond “draining the lifeblood” from your team, Petty’s Leadership Caffeine blog offers four reasons to un-status the status meeting in his post, 4 Reasons to Kill Your Weekly Status Meeting:
- Time is precious. Don’t waste it.
- The pain goes away when you stop meeting.
- Management tip: Holding court ain’t leading.
- Your people shouldn’t need this meeting to work together.
I won’t defend status meetings, but they do serve some worthwhile purposes. So, before we toss meetings out on the dustbin of history, let’s make sure their necessary functions are addressed.
Defending the status meeting
- First, status meetings can communicate what team members are doing and whether they’re hitting milestones. Those are critical activities. Before killing the status meeting, make sure that your team has an online project management software tool that lets bosses and workers convey the status of their tasks to everyone. For team-building, employees should be able to see what others are working on, too. Many groups try to do this by email, but without the context of the entire project it won’t work as well.
- Secondly, meetings can be a good way to communicate face-to-face or voice-to-voice with remote workers. Most people like social contact, so make it an available option. Also, the project manager who’s pleased with a team that’s strictly heads-down on their computers misses a crucial social point. People need to connect. You can call your meetings “micro-meetings,” impart concrete information individually, or in small groups. Find a way to pull together a handful of employees for brief interactions to assess a project’s progress without disrupting the work itself.
How do you kill meetings, but keep communication alive?
- Smart planning lets you eliminate meetings. You can avoid the project-saving “nobody’s on the same page anymore” meeting by thinking ahead and deploying resources better. Don’t let meetings become the default mode for interaction, urges Dustin M. Wax on Lifehack. His blog post, 5 Alternatives to Time Wasting Meetings suggests using instant messaging, teleconferencing, wikis, email groups and collaboration apps to keep team member connected and updated, in place of concurrent meetings.
- Make meetings a last resort. Meet when it’s the only way to accomplish the work. Never wait on a meeting to make a decision – it slows down your group. If it takes a meeting to get something decided, meet ASAP. Meetings, however, aren’t necessarily the best way to make decisions. Instead, talk to your stakeholders individually so you don’t waste everyone’s time. If people aren’t decision makers, they don’t need to be at decision meetings.
Make meetings few, far between, and successful
Make your meetings earn their keep by having some clear objectives:
- All meetings should have a clear decision maker.
- Put names on agenda items to slice through any ambiguity of who’s supposed to get what done. At the beginning of the meeting (or on the agenda), state desired outcomes clearly.
- Limit meetings to 10 people. Limit action items to three or less.
- Bring solutions, not problems, to meetings. Creating solutions in a meeting wastes time. If you can’t bring proposed solutions to the meeting, save the topic for next time or bring it up in private chats.
- Never hold a meeting for informational purposes. Company-wide announcements may be an exception.
- End meetings early. People will feel more positive about participating.
If it’s your meeting, you can make it work.