Wandering meetings that never seem to end cause boredom and anxiety in the office. Add to that the reality that meetings are quite expensive because of the collective time spent attending them. It’s in the best interest of every leader to reflect deeply on how this time can be used most efficiently.

Imagine the time savings if the mundane items were removed permanently! While the message to the team that their time is valuable can be said verbally, a meeting that is efficient, begins and ends on time, and is value added to the productivity team speaks volumes.

Reinforcing Values and Practicing Norms

Meetings are great places for leaders to reinforce the norms that are expected of the team. While every organization is likely to have their own unique set of  expectations and values, effective agendas, positive interactions, and recognizing others create successful meetings. 

Create Great Agendas — An agenda is often treated like a laundry list of random items rather than the statement of priorities it is. Create an agenda template that is printed with the values and norms of the team as well as the mission of the organization. Doing so will help these expectations and goals remain in the forefront of each team member’s mind. 

Demonstrate Positive Interactions — A high level of organization, thoughtfulness, kindness, and recognition are effective ways to foster positive interactions. 

Allow the Small Stars to Shine — Outwardly recognize the contributions of others. While this may seem simple and even trite, such a practice is often mentioned by high-functioning teams as the one part of meetings they most appreciate.

Authentic affirmation of newer staff and those in support roles is especially helpful when it comes from individuals who are perceived to be the stars of the team. When it occurs before peers who know what it really takes to get the work done, it means even more.

Trimming the Fat from Meetings

Face-to-face meetings should be used for topics and purposes that help leverage the value and productivity of the team. Consider a few strategies to ensure you’re not wasting anyone’s time. 

Creating a list of communications delivered in a weekly electronic communication, outside the meeting, is just one example. It sends a message to the team that, “we trust you to read this when it works for you and that you will be professional and accountable for its content.” 

Setting Expectations Is Leadership in Action

Leading by example is the clearest way to set expectations. Meetings remain the largest opportunity for teams to develop a collective sense of efficiency, affirmation, values, and norms. 

When leaders foster meetings that are efficient, focused, productive, positive, and respectful of each person’s time, they are sending a message that carries beyond the walls of the meeting room. They have taken a huge step toward raising the collective level of expectation for the team. 

Something as small as thoughtfully preparing a meeting agenda in advance and communicating with intention can turn a wasted opportunity into a demonstration of leadership and an exercise in productivity.