Meetings: A Royal Waste of Time?

Aug. 08, 2017

How Meetings Changed Domain

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Meetings, meetings, meetings. Businesses tend to have two very different perspectives on meetings, depending on their size and style of leadership. Either everything is a meeting or nothing is a meeting. But no matter where your business falls, the common thread is that meetings are a waste of time. In Death by Meeting, author Patrick Lencioni establishes a framework for solving one of the most painful yet underestimated problems in modern business: meetings. He contends that it is not that we should never have meetings. Meetings are actually quite necessary. But the meetings we do have are just plain bad.

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The first step is to identify how these four types of meetings fit into your organization’s culture and leadership.

When Domain was first established, meetings were avoided at all costs. After all, they’re a waste of time, right? Staff members operated as silos. When meetings did happen, there was so much information to communicate and discuss that the meetings were insufferably long and exhausting. So not only were necessary meetings not happening, but when they did they were so bad that no one ever wanted to have a follow-up meeting. It was then that CEO/President Rashaad bajwa was introduced to Lencioni’s Death by Meeting and things began to change. Here’s how Domain applied Lencioni’s framework for meetings to our particular work environment.

 

Daily Check-in: Reduce “Sneaker Time”

Our teams don’t have daily check-ins, but we do have weekly check-ins to discuss administrative issues and reduce “sneaker time,” meaning the time you may spend walking from office to office or emailing to get figure logistics.

 

Weekly Tactical: To Get Everyone on the Same Page

Our team leads meet once a week to resolve tactical issues across departments and make sure everyone is on the same page. Taking this time to communicate across department is  crucial.

 

Monthly Strategic: Wrestle over Tough Issues; Get Feedback and Collaborate

These meetings happen in our organization for a number of different reasons ad hoc, but one regularly scheduled strategic meeting is our monthly engineering meeting. All of the engineers gather for at least an hourto hash out difficult issues and brainstorm solutions. The topic is limited and the time period very focused with engagement in good conflict to resolve the issue addressed. 

 

Quarterly Off-Site Review: Provide Clarity of Vision

Every quarter, key leadership members attend meetings held by HTG Peer Groups. The conference is offsite with other leaders in our industry and it helps Domain get an outside perspective on our industry and our business.

Now that you have identified the purpose of the meetings you need to have,
the next step is to identify good content for those meetings.

Drama: Provoke Conflict

Lencioni proposes that one of the main reasons we think meetins are a waste of time because they are boring. What makes them boring? Sometimes leaders are unprepared. Other times, the information being covered is irrelevant to some in the meeting. Lastly, the content could be total fluff instrad of addressing the real issues that need to be resolved among the team. To combat boredom, keep the content interesting and engage in healthy conflict. A truly successful meeting will follow the classic story plotline: set the stage, introduce the conflict, engage in the conflict, and resolve the conflict. 

 

Clear Outcome: Provide Clearly Defined Next Steps

The other reason why meetins can feel like a waste of time is because they don’t accomplish anything. If participants don’t leave with clearly defined follow-up steps, they begin to question why it was so important for them to be present for the meeting in the first place. Make sure to leavev a designated time at the end of each meeting to ensure that everyone leaves knowing their responsibilities as well as having a record of it. Otherwise, your next meeting can very well end up covering the same issues.

 

So now that you’ve learned what makes for great metings, what will your next steps be?

Read the book. Figure out how you can implement its strategies in your organization. Most importantly, start having engaging and productive meetings!

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