10 ways to make business meetings more effective, according to a culture expert

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn’t hold meetings for the sake of it.

Responding to criticism from the Opposition regarding his decision to cancel the COAG meeting yesterday, the PM said: “I don’t think you need to have a meeting if you don’t need to have a meeting.

“You don’t need to have meetings for everybody to come and have a cup of tea. But on this side of the house, we don’t think you had to have meetings just for the sake of it.”

Considering the ripple effect from a single weekly executive meeting eats up a whopping 300,000 hours a year, according to a survey by Harvard Business Review, perhaps Morrison’s sentiment is something business leaders can learn from?

Maybe. But Corinne Canter, Senior Leadership and Culture Expert at Human Synergistics, says it’s not meetings that are the problem – it’s their effectiveness.

With this in mind, Canter says there are 10 ways business leaders can make their meetings more effective and successful.

Here they are:

1. Be deliberate in designing the team so that it’s set up for success right from the start. Ensure that the work is suited to team work, that there is some level of collaboration and interdependence needed to achieve a common goal.

2. Be clear about your expectations and how you’ll measure the team’s performance and success.

3. Establish a shared understanding and compelling team purpose or better still, involve team members in establishing this purpose.

4. Conduct a “kick off” or launch workshop with the team to discuss and agree on a charter that outlines team members’ agreement as to:

    – Purpose
    – Values and behaviour (during and outside team meetings)
    – Roles and responsibilities
    – Ways of working

5. Provide coaching and regular feedback to team members and encourage feedback between peers as to “what’s working” and “what needs work”.

6. Involve team members in determining criteria that guides which issues need collective problem solving and decision making vs individual problem solving independent of team input.

7. Make it a priority for team members to collaborate on cross functional issues so that they have the opportunity to collaborate regularly.

8. Create opportunities for team members to get to know each other better in more relaxed and informal settings. Increasing familiarity with each other’s preferences can build trust.

9. Make time at the end of each meeting to evaluate how effective the meeting and conversations were. Did we have the conversation that mattered? Did we discuss things effectively? Using a tool to do this will help provide a consistent standard against which the team can judge its development.

10. Celebrate successes and milestones achieved.

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