Think about the meetings at your company. While they might be valuable to you as a leader, do they matter to your people? Do your employees come away with fresh ideas, useful insights or valuable information? Your team members are counting on you to value their time. If you're not conducting meetings with this premise in mind, you're not looking out for their best interests.

Paul LaRue, creator of The UPwards Leader, says it's important for leaders to make meetings matter to their employees. We share LaRue's thoughts on ways to accomplish this in today's issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Talk with your people, not to or at them. LaRue recommends building two-way dialogues and meeting structures that allow everyone an opportunity to talk. Studies show that having conversations with your employees is far more effective than a lecturing style. Get their input ahead of time for agenda and hot topic items. Many times, meetings are used to bring everyone up to speed on policies, new events and other items that the managers' feel need to be addressed. However, employees may have other pressing topics that need addressing that the leader is now aware of. Get their input and commit to reviewing those items, says LaRue.

Build connection, trust and commitment. If you fail to enhance the relationship you have with your team during a meeting, then you have squandered a great opportunity. Meetings, done right, can be a fantastic outlet for people to let their guard down and show their concerns, notes LaRue. Building these connections requires setting your agenda aside and working towards the best interest of your employees. Find genuine ways such as icebreakers, break times and casual conversations to get to know, truly know, who your employees are as people.

Infuse missions, values and cultures that shape the workplace. This focus should be the core of every meeting (and every day-to-day interaction) you facilitate. A meeting without your core mission to anchor it gives the leeway for drift of culture down the road. Shore up your values each meeting and work on ways to repeat them throughout to ingrain them into your team's cultural psyche.

Structure the speaker(s) more intimately. LaRue says some of the best meetings and classrooms he has seen are those where the presenters walk around the entire room and up and down every aisle. They meet everyone's gaze engaging in meaningful eye contact and dialogue. This type of approach not only transcends physical barriers but also listeners' roles and positions and makes for more comfortable and more personal interaction.

Develop ways for others to present, teach, debate or train during the meeting. As a leader, you should make the meeting about your most precious resource: your people. In so doing, get them involved in every aspect of planning, facilitating and presenting topics or speaking. When your team feels that they are truly part of the meeting process, LaRue says they will walk away with a greater satisfaction of the meeting's usefulness and solicit their buy-in more readily.

If you want to create a culture where everyone feels valued and heard, take a closer look at your meetings. You can make a meeting matter to your people by making it theirs.

Source: Paul LaRue is the creator of The UPwards Leader and instigator for Lead Change Group. His background in senior leadership, strategic planning, culture change and people and organizational development gives him unique insights into the workings of successful organizations.