I often feel like there's not enough time in the day to accomplish what I set out to do. I'll go out on a limb and say many of you reading this feel the same. Part of this predicament can be attributed to meetings – they take up a tremendous portion of our time, but how productive are they really?
As a leader, it's our job to create an office culture that sets clear expectations for meetings. Too often they devolve to a safe space for venting frustrations. To ensure our employees are having meaningful conversations, take a look at these four tips from leadership coach Melody Wilding:
- Unify the room. Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and ensure all who are participating have a reason to be there. Sticking to an agenda will keep the conversation focused, and be sure to stay within the timeframe set. Meetings that go too long disrupt the rest of the day.
- Set ground rules. In addition to clearly outlining the mission for the meeting, set expectations for behavior. If it's on a topic that you know will stir up some conflict, be ready to mediate and keep the tension from boiling over.
- Defuse defensiveness. Communication is key in handling tough situations. If a meeting takes a turn toward a vent session, Wilding offers questions to help you better understand where frustrations are coming from. Reviewing these strategies on providing difficult feedback and characteristics of meaningful conversations might also be helpful.
- Partner in problem-solving. Instead of dictating employees' roles in next steps, give them space and autonomy to assign responsibilities amongst themselves. Being able to delegate not only frees up some of your time as a leader, but it also creates a solution-oriented work environment that will empower employees and ultimately benefit your organization.
Meetings are an inevitable part of corporate life, but these tips from Wilding will make them more effective. And remember to ask yourself "What is it for?" to ensure everything you do – from daily tasks to the big picture – brings you closer to your vision and mission.
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