Holding a productive meeting is an art. Unfortunately, it's one few business leaders have mastered. Instead of thinking of team meetings as exciting brainstorming sessions or collaborative ways to solve problems, people think of them as drawn-out sessions in a conference room where nothing is accomplished.
And that's why so many people lose focus during their team meetings. In a 2016 survey by Post-It, 51 percent of employees and 64 percent of executives admitted to forgetting the purpose of a meeting while still in it.
At my company, Coplex, a startup development studio, we've found that if you want to get the most out of your team meetings, there are certain practices you should just throw out the window. Here are four types of meetings it's not worth your time to hold:
Some people are true morning people. They stroll into the office every day and are ready to get to work. Others need a cup of coffee and a few minutes alone with their inbox to get all cylinders firing. Whichever the case, a morning meeting is counter productive.
By scheduling early team meetings, you're throwing a wrench in the prime productivity time of early risers. And let's be honest, non-morning people aren't going to bring much to the discussion table.
Let early mornings be a time for you and employees to refine their game plan for the day. Give everyone time to collect their thoughts and review their schedules. After a little reflection, you might even realize a meeting that seemed incredibly urgent yesterday isn't necessary after all.
Meetings where everyone is in agreement
If you're holding a meeting to discuss a topic or issue that everyone is already on the same page on, you're wasting time. If that's the case, whatever you have to communicate can just as effectively be discussed via email. Team meetings are a time to bounce ideas around or to think outside the box.
Truly productive meetings are ones where you have a few devil's advocates in the room;m people who are willing to stand up and get everyone to think about a situation from a different perspective. You can do this by encouraging employees to come prepared with unconventional ideas or by bringing an outsider into the meeting. For instance, if you're holding a meeting about a new marketing strategy, include a member of the sales or customer service team so you can consider their point of view as well.
The key to making these types of meetings work, however, is sticking to your organization's rules of order. Have a set of etiquette rules in place so the discussion stays on track and remains passionate without becoming hostile. Make sure they are true to your company culture and allow everyone to participate and share their ideas while still keeping meetings productive.
Meetings without the proper supplies
If the only preparation you're doing before a meeting is sending out an agenda, you're not covering all the necessary bases. Depending on the point of the meeting, you might need a whiteboard or other supplies that aid in problem solving. Make sure they are already at the location and that there's enough room to accomplish what you need to.
Also make sure there are necessary supplies available for attendees to take notes. The aforementioned Post-It survey found that 56 percent of employees believe you aren't really paying attention in a meeting if you aren't taking notes. When employees write down what's being discussed in their own words, they can better process the information and return to it if they need a refresher once the meeting is over.
Meetings that are purely about delegation
Ideally, by the end of a great meeting, you should have a plan of action that each employee can leave with so they know the next steps they should take. More importantly, employees should have a say in the part they will play moving forward.
If each meeting ends with you assigning tasks, you're robbing your team of a chance to step up, try new things, or use their entire skill set. Of course, job descriptions need to be taken into account with certain tasks. It wouldn't be appropriate to allow a graphic designer to write the code for your website simply because they've always wanted to try to code. But you should always offer a few opportunities for people to volunteer to take on more responsibility.
Asking for volunteers will give team members more ownership over the work they do. It also might give you a surprising glimpse at who your true leaders are.
Team meetings are a great way to get everyone to work together and move your company forward. However, the way you structure your meetings -- the when, where, and why -- can mean you're signing up for a productivity failure.
What are some other types of meetings that are ineffective? Share in the comments below!