Ask These Questions To Plan Better Meetings

Meetings happen every day at organizations of all sizes. Effective meetings produce better business results, but many meetings end up being unproductive. As a result, attendees feel frustrated that they dedicated a good portion of their day to something that didn't accomplish anything.

Aaron De Smet , Gregor Jost and Leigh Weiss, experts at McKinsey & Company, say it's critical for senior managers to get better, faster decisions from the meetings they attend. It begins by planning better meetings. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we explore the three questions De Smet, Jost and Weiss say are crucial for an effective meeting.

1. Should we be meeting at all? You've probably asked yourself this question many times. Not every topic or decision requires a meeting. The experts at McKinsey say that removing superfluous meetings is perhaps the single biggest gift to an everyone's productivity. They recommend starting by examining your recurring meetings, as these are fertile places for otherwise useful and timely decision topics to mutate in unproductive ways. If you decide that recurring meetings are necessary, make sure the frequency is appropriate. For example, can weekly meetings become monthly meetings? Also, consider whether the decision can be made by an individual. This person can still consult with others, but you might not need to gather the whole team for a full-fledged meeting.

2. What is this meeting for anyway? The McKinsey experts note that we naturally associate the meetings we lead with the topics they cover. But how often do we go further and clarify whether the meeting is meant to share information, discuss it or decide something? Most people can recall meetings (and large-group meetings in particular) where the lines between sharing, discussing and deciding were blurred or absent—or where the very purpose of the meeting is unclear. When planning a meeting, make sure everyone knows the purpose and feels a stake in the outcome.

3. What is everyone's role? Just as it's crucial for meetings to have a clear purpose and for attendees to know whether they're meant to be debating or deciding, it is equally important to know who makes the call. Poor role clarity can kill productivity and cause frustration when decisions involve complicated business activities. Blurry accountability can also have immediate repercussions in an era where speed and agility are a competitive advantage . To get a handle on meeting roles and responsibilities, try using the DARE acronym. Decision-makers are the only ones with a vote and they decide as they see fit. Advisers share input and shape the decision. Recommenders conduct the analysis, explore alternatives, discuss pros and cons and recommend a course of action to the advisers and decision-makers. Execution partners don't give as much input but are deeply involved in implementing the decision.

Before you send out your next meeting invite, consider the questions above. You'll help improve the quality and speed of your team's decisions and end up making better use of your time-and everyone else's.

Source: Aaron De Smet is a senior partner in McKinsey's Houston office, Gregor Jost is a partner in the Vienna office and Leigh Weiss is a senior expert in the Boston office.

filed under June 2019
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