If we pay attention to our meetings we may discover that there is a lot of room for improvement to avoid waste. Are you familiar with those sessions in which we start talking about a subject and end up lasting several hours? Or the meetings where after a while people disconnect and stop paying attention?
In this post I tell you a small change that you can include in your meetings in a simple way to multiply the productivity of your sessions and improve the skills of the team members.
In particular, I am going to focus on three key points that are often overlooked: time, focus on the goal and teamwork. Let’s see how by introducing 3 roles in your meetings, you will be able to make them more dynamic and productive while protecting these pillars.
One for all and all for one
Our day to day, in general, requires that we collaborate and work as a team with other people. And for these relationships with others to work well, we must respect them and learn to value their ways of working and their opinions.
And also in our meetings. We must encourage people to participate in decision-making and to take their point of view into account. Not only will we achieve a healthier collaboration and make better decisions, but by involving others, we will improve concentration on the session.
This is where our first role comes in: the “energizer”. During the meetings, they will be in charge of encouraging everyone to participate, he will ensure that everyone can express their point of view and that speaking turns are respected.
As a side effect, we will also improve our interpersonal skills since going through this role will put us in the situation of paying attention to how we interact with each other and to be increasingly aware of the lack of respect and the level of real collaboration among us.
When we meet it is for something. We have a goal. Ideally, one or more decisions to make. But it is very common that the objective is diluted as the session goes by and that we end up talking about other topics. As a result, not only do the meetings get longer, but sometimes we don’t even reach our goal by the end of the session!
To avoid this, we can introduce a second role: the “decisions accelerator”. Their goal will be to be aware of the progress of the meeting and focus it towards the real objective.
In our case, we have defined 3 main points where this role intervenes:
- At the beginning of the meeting, to ensure that everyone understands the purpose of the meeting
- During the course, making sure we stay focused on meeting the goal. To avoid beating around the bush, the accelerator should politely guide the conversation. If important topics come up but have nothing to do with it, they will be responsible for parking it to talk about them at another time.
- At the end of the session, to make a small summary (very high-level brief) of the decisions made. Again, to ensure that everyone is aligned with the outcome of the session.
As in the case of the previous role, introducing this dynamic will also help us improve our day-to-day work. Concretely, it will make us more aware of the importance of staying focused. To work with clear objectives and thus avoid waste, as we already told you in this other post.
Time is a critical resource. We cannot build it, and we need it for absolutely everything. And if we look at it from the most materialistic point of view, time generally ends up being translated into money. Therefore, learning to respect it and to give it the importance it deserves is crucial. Being able to correctly set and respect meeting time is an art that, once mastered, will bring us enormous benefits.
And this is where our latest role comes in: the “time watcher.” Their mission is to be aware of the time set for the session and ensure that it is respected. They will notify the rest of the time available. There is an interesting synergy with the “decision accelerator” as both work side by side to ensure that the meeting objective is met in the expected timebox.
In this case, the main contribution to the development of our skills is related to the internalization of the importance of time. And I don’t mean just your own time. If we set a meeting of half an hour, which ends up being extended to two hours, we are not only investing our time but also the others’ one. And we must respect it. They may have other commitments, which could be more important than ours and for which they are responsible. We must not fall into the thought of “as I have set the meeting, I have carte blanche so I can keep them more time.”
Some final advices
To recap, we have talked about how meetings are usually a good point to review to improve our productivity. Specifically, I have recommended you to set three roles in your meetings: the “energizer”, to encourage collaboration; the “decisions accelerator”, to keep the focus on the objectives; and the “time watcher”, to ensure that the established time limits are respected.
As an additional tip, I would suggest you that these roles should rotate among team members. As we have seen, each of them helps us improve certain skills that can bring great benefits in the medium and long term.
Another question people often ask me is, why don’t we simplify it and put a single role? Because it is very difficult for a single person to pay attention to the meeting and at the same time to the other three aspects. It is better to divide the responsibilities so that they are more bearable and effective.
I’d also like to encourage you to customize the roles. Give them your own names, use toys, etc. What you prefer! What matters is the purpose behind them.
Finally, something that has also happened to us is that, at the beginning, we set the roles but people didn’t pay much attention to them. In our case we identified that the problem could come from the fact that, being something new, people didn’t remember that during the meeting they had to pay attention to a specific detail. In order to facilitate the incorporation to make it a habit, we resort to visualization. I mean to use some visual element (in our case some small posters) that remind us of the role we play within the meeting.
And having said all this, I look forward to your comments and personal experiences. Not just about the role mechanism, but also about any other meeting enhancements that you would like to share.