Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Knowing when to have a meeting, part of New Manager Fundamentals.
Meetings are overrated. Now, I'm not talking about the simple one-on-ones we often have. I'm referring to a meeting that involves several people. We often call meetings for a variety of unproductive reasons. First, people often assume that if any decision is to be made, a meeting should be scheduled. It is only fair to make a decision when we've had a great team debate, right? Not really. The first rule of meetings is when in doubt, do not call a meeting. In practice, the opposite is often true. For example, having a meeting on a regularly scheduled basis every week, just for the sake of it, is not a defensible rationale.
To give updates on a project in a meeting with the same people at the same time every week, might be productive and it might be a waste of time. What people fail to realize is that any meeting comes with many difficult overhead costs. To have a meeting, you have to schedule a time, which can be difficult if many people are invited. You also have to spend time planning the meeting. That doesn't even include the lost productivity that happens during an actual meeting. When a group is in a meeting, there are many people with different agendas, views and concerns.
In some ways, these differences create quality conversations. In other ways, they cost the team extra time and harm productivity. Many organizations are starting to agree. We have to be smarter about when to call meetings. Here are the five major justifications for calling a meeting. First, call a meeting when you must make particularly large or important decisions about which the team cares a lot. In that case, the face-to-face forum allows you to have the discussion you need. Think of it this way, if the team will expect to have a voice in the decision, consider a meeting.
Next, use meetings to make major announcements. When particularly large events have happened, strategic directives have been announced, or big unexpected changes have occurred, consistency in message delivery is vital. For example, maybe the organization has decided to acquire another organization or maybe key government regulations just changed that will affect the team. Delivering messages like these uniformly to everyone at a meeting can be very useful. Another good reason for a meeting is the classic kick-off meeting.
For a new or large scale projects, a kick-off meeting provides many benefits. These include the ability to fully explain the new initiative, to ensure team member role clarity, and to set goals and expectations concerning performance for the new project. A kick-off meeting also allows the opportunity for team members to ask questions, allowing you to establish a two-way dialogue in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Another great reason to have a meeting is called a premortem. A premortem is a meeting designed for imagining all of the things that might go wrong once the project goes live.
It's a type of planning meeting that should result in the identification of a small number of issues that might become challenges or obstacles while working on the project. It's a great time to proactively and preemptively decide on a strategy for dealing with these predictable bumps in the road. In contrast to a premortem is the postmortem. Following the completion of any large effort, it is useful to call a meeting to gain closure and to ensure learning is captured in a way that benefits future projects. Think through the problems that were solved, the solutions that were used, the resources that were employed, and any new contacts the group made.
Find a way to capture all of that, so later, the team doesn't have to reinvent the wheel when facing similar challenges. The postmortem is also a great time to say thanks and to recognize achievements. Meetings can be terribly useful, but often aren't. If you're facing one of the situations we've just discussed, great! Call a meeting. Otherwise, resist the urge and instead, rely on individuals or subgroups of individuals as a more efficient means of getting the work done. If you do, you'll find yourself having fewer, but more productive meetings.
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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.