It has been estimated that executives can be in meetings for up to 23 hours per week on average. And business owners can spend more than that in a given week. That's a lot of meetings, and if done improperly, it's a lot of wasted time and missed opportunities. As a business owner, you have heard time and time again how creating an agenda (and sticking to it) is crucial to making the most out of company meetings. 

And after 25 years of helping others streamline their business practices, I can say with 100 percent certainty that statement is true. But with one caveat: 

For the majority of those meetings, don't create the agenda yourself. 

Creating the agenda for the various meetings you have throughout the week not only takes away from your ability to work on higher-level tasks within your business, it can also really hinder your ability to help your team grow and develop as leaders within your company. 

Let Your Staff Own Their Own Agendas

For meetings that I hold with my team members, I always let them know that I have a list of some of my own items to cover in the meeting, but I would first like them to take a pass at it and set the agenda. And I ask them to deliver that agenda proposal by the close of business two days before our scheduled meeting. That way I get a full day to review it, and, nine chances out of 10, they may already have some of my agenda items on their list.

The Benefits

Giving your team ownership over the meeting agenda has some really important benefits that can not only help your business grow faster but can also help you coach and develop the team into leaders within your organization. 

  1. It gives you insight into what they consider important. For instance, if all of a team member's agenda items are about specific tasks, that tells you that person could use help developing a more strategic understanding of their role and how it ties in with the rest of the organization. Of course, there will always be some housekeeping, task-orientated to-do items to cover, but seeing everyone's agenda items will help you get a glimpse into where someone's focus lies.

  2. It serves as a reminder. When you get a proposed agenda in your inbox, that doubles as a reminder that you have to prepare for that meeting. Whether that means coming up with follow-up questions or reviewing data prior to the meeting, this will help you make the most of your time together.

  3. It helps establish company culture. If you set a meeting, you'd better have an agenda. This will help reinforce the idea that everyone's time is valuable and you want to make the most of your time together by putting some thought into the meeting ahead of time. 

Letting your team members create their own meeting agendas will free up your time to grow your business faster and help your team members grow as leaders. It's a win for all involved.

Published on: Jan 30, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.