If you don’t answer this common leader question properly, as your business grows in number of customers, employees, vendors and initiatives, you will experience a scalability problem. You will find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of your time in meetings and your frustration will grow as you realize you can’t effectively communicate with everyone. It’s not physically possible.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a meeting as "a gathering of people for a particular purpose." A gathering of your team to review reports is a meeting. One employee in your office complaining about the copier is a meeting. A call with your printer to clarify font size is a meeting. Lunch with a client to discuss their account is a meeting. Hopefully you get the point. If you don’t make some important decisions and take control of your meetings, your meetings will take control of you.
In one of my prior businesses, I found myself in meetings for most of every workday. If I was going to "get anything done," I had to do it before 8:00 a.m. or during evenings or weekends. I literally had a line at my door in addition to a steady flow of incoming and outgoing calls, and it was my fault. I hadn’t taken the time to establish a way of meeting to empower my team to resolve their issues without my direct involvement. If you can relate, I encourage you to change now. The path you’re on is not healthy for you or your business.
How Many Meetings Do I Need?
The simple answer is: as many as it takes to effectively celebrate, create clarity, ensure accountability and harvest knowledge and creativity to solve your most pressing issues. In high accountability teams, issues are considered solved when teammates leave the meeting absolutely clear about who’s doing what within a specified period of time to resolve those issues. Accountability is assured when teammates, in subsequent meetings, confirm they completed those critical tasks.
If your pressing issues are piling up, there are four things you can do:
- Change your meeting agenda to focus more on identifying and solving issues
- Meet more often
- Meet for a longer period of time
- Change the people you're meeting with
If your goal is to reduce the amount of time you're spending in meetings, you need to do number 1 or 4 (or both). I strongly recommend using The Level 10 Meeting™ tool to help you with number 1 and The Meeting Pulse™ tool to help with number 2. Continue reading for help with number 4.
Who Should I Meet With?
You should strive to meet with the smallest number of people needed to resolve your issues. Each person adds more time and expense to your meeting, so be prudent. Target CFO, John Mulligan, was recently quoted, "Too many people (were) invited to too many meetings. Too many people had veto power over decisions that didn't directly affect them."
My passionate plea is that you only meet with people who will be directly accountable for the decisions that are made in the meeting. That means they will be held accountable to do those things that are committed to in the meeting that align with the roles and responsibilities for their seat in your Accountability Chart. In very practical EOS terms, if someone is going to leave your meeting without owning Rocks or To Dos, they shouldn’t be in your meeting. The exception would be a meeting with the sole purpose of disseminating or exchanging information, but be careful here. If you feel like you have to do a lot of information sharing meetings, you may have some right people, right seat issues. I’ll cover that topic in another blog post.
In addition to accountability being essential, if you aren’t confident someone will contribute valuable knowledge and creativity to your meeting, why include them? When you only meet with people who share your core values and get, want and have the capacity to do what needs to be done, you will celebrate regularly with those who are actually securing the wins, create clarity faster and tap into a bank of knowledge, creativity and passion that will result in faster, better solutions to your most pressing issues.
I urge you! Make some critical decisions now to get better control of your meetings. The best answer is rarely to do more meetings or longer meetings. The best answer is to do focused meetings with the few, right people participating.
- Watch this helpful video on leading world-class meetings.
- Download the first chapter of Traction—the book that shows you how to get your company on track.
- Ready to get started with EOS? Schedule a free 90-minute meeting with an EOS Implementer.