After working on software for business meetings for 4 years now, we’ve learned a thing or two about them.
An interesting interplay of technology and personalities.
No two are the same, yet they share a lot of commonalities.
We thought we’d bring together some of the insights we’ve made watching hundreds (thousands?) of meetings and talking to hundreds of people about them.
1. Skills trump tools
There’s a reason master craftsmen can turn a piece of stone into a work of art.
They are, after all, Master. Craftsmen.
They’ve practiced their skill for years, maybe decades, and have honed their mind and body into sculpting machines, rivaled by few. Tools in their hands are like extensions of themselves – they serve to augment and enhance an already highly refined process.
In the same way, the best meeting organizers have practiced and honed their skills over years, if not decades. They are experts at agenda creation and have a keen sense for what can be achieved by a group in a given amount of time. Like a mini-CEO, they have a strong vision for what meeting outcome they want, and assemble people, resources and information to achieve it. They see potential roadblocks and plan around them before they materialize. They are excellent people managers, and call on all members of the group to solve vexing issues. They see technology as an aid. They understand how organizations work, and bring out the best in their colleagues.
Just like the master crafter, gifted meeting organizers use meeting tools (like Trackmeet, OneNote, GoToMeeting, video conferencing, etc.) to further their agenda, not for the sake of using the latest trend or what an organization dictates.
2. Awesome meeting culture starts at the top
How do you identify organizations with the best meetings?
Find an org chart and let your gaze wander to the top. If members of the management team are all-star meeting organizers, there’s a good chance the rest of the organization will be too. All that meeting prowess filters down through an organization from the top.
Looking to change meeting habits of your organization? Train the trainers. Invest in ongoing coaching and technology adoption that starts with your management team, and specifically, your CEO. Habits that the CEO and senior managers demonstrate represent the kind of (meeting) behavior that is expected, and mirrored, in your organization.
Does your management team take well formatted notes at meetings? Do they leave enough time between meetings to regroup and prepare? Do they follow up on action items? Do they create agendas? Do they let others speak and share their ideas?
You can achieve outsized investment returns by ensuring your management team is doing meetings right. Invest in training and coaching here so everyone leads by example.
3. Measure meeting performance
We’ve come across a handful of organizations that measure and reward meeting skills. As in, their performance evaluations measure their ability to run effective meetings.
We spoke with teams from Sutter Health and Codan, and found out that they perform a 360 review around meeting skills for their colleagues. This blends into a score that finds its way into their performance review and, ultimately, compensation!
But remember the old leadership adage to “Inspect what you expect” and “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”? If your expectations are for awesome meetings, you better be measuring your expected behavior. Somehow.
By simply adding an area or even a line item within your performance management process, you can shine a little (or big) spotlight on meeting management.
What else are we missing? What are some interesting insights you’ve made into meeting culture across your career?