Meetings tend to take up a sizable portion of our time each week, month and year. Effective meetings increase productivity, unity and employee satisfaction, while unspecific, lengthy and unorganized meetings cause staff to wonder “Why am I here?” The goal of this article is to help you make meetings matter by focusing on how a great leader can make or break a meeting.
How Leaders Can Make Meetings Matter
The captain of the ship. Like a good captain, the leader of a meeting is responsible for guiding a meeting towards a desired destination. The actions of a leader during a meeting compose one of the most crucial elements of a meeting that yields real results.
Identify a purpose. Prior to the start of any meeting, the leader must first identify the purpose of said meeting. A good purpose is specific and measurable. For example, rather than going into a weekly meeting with an unclear agenda, establish beforehand that the purpose of your meeting is to increase resident population by 20%. When leaders notice that the discussion is moving off-track of the purpose, their role is to redirect attendees toward the purpose and the objectives or discussion topics that lead to the fulfillment of the purpose.
Anticipate and correct misunderstandings. If employees leave a meeting with misunderstandings about the next step they should take or how a certain policy should be implemented, the effects of your meeting could lead to negative repercussions. If your meeting focuses on a new strategy to use during property tours, an incorrect application of the strategy could actually drive away your prospects. It is the leader’s responsibility to check for understanding and ask questions that gauge how well the staff gets the topic at hand.
Great leaders may even identify possible misconceptions that staff could have prior to the gathering and bring them up towards the end of the meeting. For example, a great leader may say something like “Just to make things clear, I don’t want anyone to think that due to this new project, policy, etc. they should do X, when actually we should be doing Y instead.” They might also say “Just because we are now implementing X to achieve this goal doesn’t mean we can now forget about Y. We now need to do both X and Y to finish up this project.”
Listen first, speak second. Leaders often gain valuable insight from employees during meetings that are purposed to solve a problem or identify ways to achieve a goal. This only happens, however, when the leader truly listens to others. A leader should refrain from sharing their opinion, solution or idea at the beginning of a meeting to avoid the risk of staff agreeing with a potentially mediocre idea just because they’re the leader. David M. Cote, former chief executive of Honeywell told NY Times the following:
“Your job as a leader is to be right at the end of the meeting, not at the beginning…It’s your job to flush out all the facts, all the opinions, and at the end make a good decision, because you’ll get measured on whether you made a good decision, and not whether it was your idea from the beginning.”
Leaders who listen to other perspectives, assess the ideas being presented, and then evaluate the best course of action will find that they are truly making meetings matter.
These tools will act as a springboard to leaders who want to increase the productivity of their meetings! Stay tuned next week to find out more meeting strategies in “How to Make Meetings Matter – Part II.”