Learn how to keep your meetings action focused by reviewing previous meeting notes, checking in on previous commitments, bringing awareness to changes in the schedule, and making clear what actions must be taken and who will take them.
- Since so much of your time as a manager is spent in meetings, making sure meetings are effective is essential to your productivity, right? Yet, few of us think of meetings as productive. Why is that? I've found in my coaching that most managerial meetings fail to be productive because they fail to end with clear action. In other words, we talked about what to do. We had some valuable discussions, maybe even a person or two vaguely agreed we should do something about it.
Yet in the end, we lacked anything specific for us to follow up on. Or, perhaps even worse in my opinion, people did commit to an action, but no one followed up on it. It was just forgotten. As a manager, you want to make sure your meetings are always productive and always focused on specific, meaningful action. Action, then, becomes the most important part of the meeting. Here are some tips to make that happen.
First, reserve time at the beginning of each meeting for reporting. Review the notes from the last meeting, and check on each person who made a commitment, ensuring that they followed through. Second, be aware of any changes in subject during the meeting. Now it's natural for meetings to cover more than one topic. Whenever a shift in topic occurs, stop, and gather a specific action. I think of this like a mountain climber placing an anchor into the rock wall before moving farther up the cliff.
Before you proceed, anchor the conversation with a solid action. Third, when deciding on that action, ask the vital delegation questions. What specific action needs to be taken? Who will do it? And, when will it be done? If necessary, take a moment to discuss the why behind the action as well. Make sure everyone in the meeting is certain about the what, who, and when before moving forward.
Fourth, make a note of your answers. Put them into a gathering point you know you'll see and process later, such as a notepad or sending yourself an email. If you want help with this, you can also check out my course on leading productive meetings, which includes a template for meeting minutes. Fifth, process your notes using what, when, where processing which I described in Time Management Fundamentals, and create a reminder to follow up.
This means you're going to either schedule a calendar appointment with yourself or a task reminder that you're waiting for the person to report back. And finally, follow up. When the reminder pops up, make sure that you check in with the person at the appropriate time and ensure that they followed through. As you do this consistently, your team will recognize that you're holding them accountable, which, over time, should increase follow-through.
Follow these steps, and your team members will begin to feel that meetings are productive, essential, and action-focused.
In this course, best-selling author Dave Crenshaw offers managers at all levels practical strategies for efficient time management. Dave covers time management best practices for managing people, including delegating tasks, managing expectations, and establishing productive one-on-one meetings. He also provides helpful tips for managing projects, including how to coordinate multiple projects, allocate scarce resources, hold a team accountable to deadlines, and communicate deadline changes when necessary. Additionally, Dave covers how to manage priorities, including using your calendar as a prioritization tool, keeping your meetings action-focused, and shifting priorities when the need arises.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Identify how to delegate tasks effectively.
- Develop a training mindset.
- Discover how to manage expectations.
- Plan multiple long-term projects.
- Discover how to communicate changes to avoid delays.
- Determine how to prioritize time between meetings and work.
- Demonstrate how to manage your calendar efficiently.
- Identify the correct balance between work and fun.
- Determine how to hold others accountable to deadlines.
- Organize meetings and keep them action-focused.