Does your company have difficulties too sticking to the foreseen agenda of its meetings? It’s so common. Meeting participants enter long discussions. And before they realize it – they’ve spent far too much time on one topic and don’t have sufficient time for a next (far more important) one…. In this insight we’ll dig deeper into a core underlying reason of this problem – and make some suggestions so your meetings won’t get off track.
In our experience, meetings typically get off track when nobody feels responsible for the quality of the discussion. Take the situation where a senior person in the room gets triggered by something she saw on a slide and she starts a vivid debate. Nice topic – everyone gets animated – but it has nothing to do with the purpose of the meeting. What happens? The person who prepared the presentation feels stuck… Time flies… and suddenly people realize they went over time and they have insufficient time left for a thorough discussion on the important topic they were initially supposed to discuss… The question is. Who was responsible for the (deteriorating) quality of the discussion? Was it the leader in the room? Was it the person who had prepared the discussion? Was is the senior person who started the side discussion? In reality – probably nobody felt responsible. They all went with the flow….
The solution? Designate a facilitator with the clear mandate to reach the aim of the discussion within the allocated time.
Each part of this sentence is important.
- Designate a facilitator: It’s the person who will make sure the discussion remains on track.
- With the clear mandate: If everyone in the room knows the facilitator is in charge of the process, it will surprise nobody when she intervenes to refocus the meeting.
- To reach the aim of the discussion: Having a topic is not enough. The facilitator should have a clear aim for the discussion.
- Within the allocated time: Yes, there’s a timing constraint for the facilitator. A timing constraint clear from the start of the discussion.
This solution is critical for virtually all meetings. Including one-on-ones. Because there too are so many discussions without true progress being made… Just make sure (1) it’s clear who has the mandate to facilitate, (2) what the aim of the meeting is, (3) and how much time there is to reach this aim.
You want to increase the quality of the meetings in your company? So that meetings lead to superior decisions, with the alignment and engagement of all?
We help leading companies get drastically better in meetings management:
- We massively train in facilitation, both the art and the science;
- We reduce by up to 33% the corporate bill of meetings;
- We double (say if 40% to 80%) the meetings reaching their objectives;
- We help install and adhere to a corporate meetings policy.