Meeting to Enhance Productivity?

By Joe Truncale
In December 13, 2013

Recently I was working with a member/client executive team on their quarterly planning update. The team expressed frustration with the overall effectiveness of their production meetings. I asked the VP of Manufacturing to rate the meetings on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being outstanding. He gave them a 3-5. So we decided to try to get them to a 7-8 rating and quickly.

We determined that the meetings themselves were not effective because the participants (and the leaders) were focused on the meeting itself, as though that was all there was to do. Not so.

Effective meetings begin with the understanding that there are three parts to any meeting; before, during, and after.

Before the meeting, it is all about preparation. The meeting leaders and the participants themselves need to understand and commit to careful and detailed preparation of an agenda along with the expectations of all the attendees. What do I need to bring, share in advance, or distribute to the other participants? What questions should I prepare to ask? What questions should I be prepared to answer? What information or help do I need from the other members that will help me with my area of responsibility?

Responsibility during the meeting might seem like a no-brainer: show up, be reasonably attentive, and answer questions when asked. But if we really want to increase the effectiveness of our meetings, we require more than that. Attendance is all about participation, which is a reflection of the preparation that went into the “before” part of the meeting.

In order to participate actively, one must be fully present, which, by definition, means focused on the meeting at hand. It is ridiculous to think this can take place if meeting participants have their BlackBerrys, smart phones, or other external communication devices in front of them and active during the meeting. If the “during” part of the meeting is to be productive at all, the full focus and attention of the participants is a non-negotiable requirement.

After the meeting, performance is required. Effective meetings help us better understand what is required of us to move forward. Action items are identified and timelines established. After the meeting, it is all about performance.

Three parts to an effective meeting. Before-preparation. During-participation. After-performance.

So how effective are your meetings?

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