I have a fairly new team, and we quickly established ground rules for our meetings. I only wish all meetings followed them.
We agreed to always have an agenda for our meetings. If we don’t have items for the agenda, we don’t meet. I try to follow that with all meetings that I am invited to attend. If there is no agenda or a clear purpose, then I don’t go. That’s not always in my control, but most often it is. If someone requests a meeting with no clear agenda, I decline. Usually, the person follows up with a quick email, and no meeting is required. My boss and I meet bi-weekly, and we both add items to the agenda.
Start on time
Another frustration is meetings that don’t start or end on time. One place I worked, we basically joked that all meetings started 10 minutes late, and we referred to it as [insert name of company] time.”
End on time
Meetings that run long are equally problematic because then individuals are invariably running late to the next meeting. If you can’t get through the agenda in the allotted time, ask the participants if it’s okay to extend the length of the meeting. If it’s not possible, schedule a second meeting.
Develop an action plan
Before the meeting ends, everyone should agree on the action items, due dates and who is assigned to them. One person should be responsible for following up with individuals to ensure assignments are completed on time and shared as needed.
The Muse recently wrote about fixing the meeting overload problem. You can read more here.