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.
When Domain started, meetings were avoided at all costs. After all, they are a waste of time, right? Staff members operated as a silos. And when meetings did happen, there was so much 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 no one ever wanted to have another one. But then CEO/President Rashaad Bajwa was introduced to Lencioni’s Death by Meeting and things started to change. Here’s how Domain has applied Lencioni’s framework for meetings to our particular work environment.
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 out logistics.
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 departments is critical.
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 hour to 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.
Every quarter key leadership 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.
Lencioni proposes that one of the main reasons we think meetings are a waste of time is because they are boring. What makes them boring? Sometimes leaders are unprepared. Other times, the information being covered could have just as easily been communicated through an email or the content is irrelevant to some in the meeting. Lastly, the content could be total fluff instead of addressing the real issues that need to be resolved among the team. So to combat boredom, keep the content interesting and engage in healthy conflict. A truly successful meeting will follow the classic story plot line: Set the stage, bring out the conflict, engage in the conflict and then resolve it.
The other reason meetings 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 there in the first place. Make sure to leave a designated time at the end of each meeting to ensure that everyone leaves knowing their responsibilities and have a record of it. Otherwise, your next meeting can very well end up covering the same issues.
Read the book. Figure out how you can implement them in your organization. Most importantly, start having good productive meetings!