How strategically do your run your team meeting agenda?
You might run a variety of team meetings. Maybe some are just your direct reports. Others could be for a specific project. Some probably include people outside of your department, or maybe even outside of your organization.
Whatever the case, one thing is certain: how you run your team meeting agenda makes a world of difference.
You can run that agenda in the typical fashion. You will probably get typical results (hint: typical meetings are boring and unproductive).
Or you could run that agenda in a very strategic way. You might be surprised by the results!
It all comes down to one approach that matters more than anything else.
Stuff That Matters
A lot of meeting advice gets very tactical.
Make sure your agenda is specific. Send it out in advance. Get feedback and suggestions for topics.
Keep the meeting on track. Stick to the agenda. “Time box” items.
Identify who is going to speak to each topic. Assign tasks. Make sure each task has an owner.
Those are all nice ideas. And they are helpful. But they don’t matter if you aren’t crystal clear on exactly *why* each item is on the agenda.
Team Meeting Agenda: Three Wishes
Fortunately, there are only three reasons why something is on your team meeting agenda: to share, gather, or decide. Make sure each agenda item is assigned one of these specific purposes.
Sometimes the topic is on the list because information needs to be shared and a meeting format is the best way to do this.
This option should be in the minority. Most information can be shared more effectively, and certainly more efficiently, in other formats. Live meeting time is too valuable to waste with lots of status updates.
But if you absolutely must share information in a live meeting, be clear about that purpose. If no further action is required, state that up front. Then, don’t let the conversation wander off track.
Many times, you need to discuss an issue in detail in order to inform a decision. If that’s the case, you should probably adopt some sort of methodology for organizing the collection of input.
Making sure that the right people are in the meeting and that each person speaks up is a great place to start. But that may not be enough.
Following a structure that is designed to uncover the most complete and insightful information will help greatly. Be deliberate with this process. And be sure to have the process identified and developed well before the meeting. This is not the time to play it by ear.
Decisions are a great use of live meeting time. But again, process is key.
The first decision is how you will decide. Are you trying to achieve consensus? Will a majority rule? Will one person ultimately make the decision? Will this group be making a formal recommendation to a final decision-maker outside of the group?
Be clear on the decision making process. Use all of the information you have gathered systematically (see #2 above).
Identify and evaluate the choices. Weigh out the pros and cons. Evaluate the opportunities and risks. Articulate the rationale. Make a decision.
As you can see, decision-making is its own process, and an important one. Which is why you should separate it from the other two.
Purpose Brings Clarity
When every agenda item has a specific purpose, your team meeting will flow much more smoothly. Because each item will have a clear goal: share, gather, or decide.
This level of clarity, along with a disciplined process, will supercharge your team meetings. Everyone will know exactly why each item is on the agenda. They will know exactly what the desired outcome is for each item. And you can guide a thoughtful and specific process for each item.