Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Deciding who should attend a meeting, part of New Manager Fundamentals.
Let me ask you a question, what is the right number of people to have in a meeting? If your goal is to maximize productivity, how many people should be there? This is something of a trick question. There is no actual correct number, but there is one great guideline. Invite the smallest number of people honestly required to get the job done. Remember, adding people to a recurring meeting when necessary is easy. Removing people is next to impossible. In addition, it is smart to try to minimize the levels of hierarchy present in any meeting.
Generally, the fewer levels present, the more robust the conversation. When thinking about inviting someone to a meeting, remember, when in doubt don't extend the invitation. If you do invite someone, be sure that they are one of the three main types of people who belong at a meeting: the experts, the affected, and the sponsors. The experts are the people with detailed knowledge and the relevant talent related to the topic at hand. The experts provide the fine grained expertise, the in-the-trenches operational knowledge required for success.
Next, we have the affected. Which individuals or groups will be forced to live with the decisions to be made at this meeting? They are the affected and they often make great meeting participants. Having them present helps lay the groundwork for the future implementation of any decisions made during the meeting. We must also consider the sponsors. Most meetings need a sponsor. This is a higher level person who openly supports the project and the work of the team. The more important the project, the more you must clarify sponsorship.
Though they only need to occasionally attend meetings, a few appearances will make their presence felt and will signal genuine support. Thus, everyone involved will understand the importance of the work to be done. Unfortunately, as opposed to only inviting the people we just discussed, people in charge of meetings often invite a lot of people who really do not need to attend. Let's be clear, there are at least three types of people you want to avoid inviting. Don't invite too many experts beyond the number you honestly believe are required. If you have 20 engineers with the needed knowledge, you don't need to invite all of them.
Recall that your goal is to invite the fewest needed people. Also, don't feel compelled to invite someone simply because they have been associated with the topic in the past. Many people feel that inviting someone like that is a type of courtesy. No! Unless they are the expert or sponsor you currently need, don't allow your meeting overhead to grow by inviting non-essential personnel. Finally, and this is a big one, you don't want to invite people you feel are necessary only for political reasons.
A political appointee at a meeting is someone you feel you should invite, because if you don't, you think some other leader might feel shunned or annoyed. Anytime someone is at the meeting and people wonder why or perceive it as political, the conversations will be stale and the meeting will be unproductive. Nothing will ruin a great collaborative conversation in a meeting faster than the presence of a spy. Meetings don't have to be bloated and unproductive, not if you focus clearly on inviting only the right people. That's the experts, the affected, and the sponsors.
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- Clarifying performance expectations
- Feeding your learning curve
- Building rapport with your team
- Explaining your decision-making style
- Increasing your authenticity
- Communicating proactively
- Knowing when to have a meeting and who should attend
- Coping successfully with your transition<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.