Built for Efficiency

How to Run a Better Meeting

Building is a fast-paced, constantly changing industry. Ask anyone in the building and construction world and they’ll tell you they’re constantly looking for new ways to streamline their process. Whether it’s a pro trying to install a product faster, a distributor trying to ship products quicker, or a dealer trying to move a product out the door, everyone wants to improve their efficiencies.

But in our quest to improve our processes, we often overlook one major area that can drain our team’s time and energy: meetings.

Think about it—there’s nothing special about the average meeting. Just about anyone can schedule a meeting, and some people show up and tune out the message. In fact, about 40% of employees say that half of their meetings are unnecessary[1]. The bottom line is most meetings have become ineffective. But there are ways to improve them; even if you’re adamant that your meetings are of the highest quality, they can be even more effective if you implement the tips below:

  1. There Should be a Legitimate Reason for Every Meeting. Too many managers call regular meetings as a means of justifying their position on the totem pole. Meetings also serve as an opportunity to justify managers' roles by providing an authoritative platform to direct others. But too many meetings can be a mistake, as these gatherings inevitably can alienate employees beneath the manager. If you’re going to call a meeting with a large group of people, there should be an excellent reason to pull everyone off the floor to meet in a communal space. If the meeting's goal(s) can be accomplished with an email, or a quick text, or a one-on-one discussion, opt for one of these more efficient methods.
  2. Publicize the Meeting's Agenda at Least One Day Ahead of Time. Do not keep the meeting agenda a secret! Effective leaders share as much information as possible so meeting participants are fully prepared to discuss the nuances of the topic(s) at hand. Be specific when explaining the meeting; do not use generic words like “information” when describing the agenda. Devote at least a few sentences or paragraphs to describing the purpose of the meeting so participants can properly prepare, establish expectations and come to the table ready to discuss.
  3. Do Not Invite Everyone! Highly effective meetings include those who are critical to the matters of discussion. Do not invite anyone who is not essential to the meeting's subject matter. Key in on individuals who will actually benefit from listening to the matters discussed in the meeting and participating in those discussions. It is also worth noting that an over-populated meeting will likely last much longer than originally planned. Each additional meeting participant makes the event that much more complicated and lengthy, meaning you might be losing money.
  4. Don’t Use Meetings As a Cop-Out. It’s not uncommon for managers who are experiencing problems with one or two employees to call a meeting with the entire team to address the problem. But unless the problem in question is widespread, do not call a team meeting to discuss a problem caused by only one or two members of the team (for example, showing up late). Not only is this passive aggressive and alienating to those the meeting does not apply to, it is also ineffective, as the people who need to change behaviors may not pick up on the fact you are talking about them. It’s more effective and less costly to address your concerns with these staff members one-on-one.
  5. Ask for Feedback. A meeting should not be a monologue; likewise, they shouldn’t be lengthy discussions. The best meetings are a mix of dialogue and straightforward leadership from the person calling the meeting. Encourage active participation, especially in the final portion of the meeting. Devote at least five minutes for attendees to raise concerns, ask questions etc. Do not give participants an unlimited amount of time to make closing remarks, raise inquiries or pose concerns. People are much more straightforward when they are forced to explain themselves in a small window of time.
  6. A Lengthy Meeting Recap is Unnecessary. If employees expect an extensive meeting recap, many will tune out the meeting or completely skip it. Consolidate the meeting's points of discussion in an easy-to-understand recap that doesn't require a significant amount of time to absorb. Make it crystal clear that invited employees must attend the meeting. Some managers find it prudent to not provide a meeting recap in order to persuade employees to show up and pay close attention during the event. If you are absolutely insistent on providing a recap, limit it to specific action items. The recap should communicate exactly what was decided, the actions that will bring the meeting subject matter to fruition, which employees will perform those actions and the point in time they will be performed.

For dealers, meeting with your team can be an important part of keeping your business running as one cohesive unit. Meetings can be a great way to keep your employees’ focus set on the goals you’ve outlined, as well as update them on the progress of their efforts. But they can also be money and time sucks when conducted in an ineffective way. Try the tips above to make your next meeting that much smoother and more efficient.

See More from the June 2017 Issue of Dealer Digest!

[1] http://realbusiness.co.uk/hr-and-management/2016/04/28/need-proof-that-meetings-are-a-waste-of-time-here-it-is/