How was that meeting? (evaluating the effectiveness)
A recent blog revealed the staggering average cost that companies spend on their employees to attend meetings. Once that staggering number is digested and finally accepted, the initial reaction may be to discontinue the practice of meetings. Instead, the true awakening comes to only holding efficient, productive, and successful meetings to justify the cost. With that in mind, how does one know whether or not a meeting was successful? Here are some tips to help create and determine an effective meeting.
Begin with the end in mind
Yes, Covey said it best, didn’t he? Beginning with the end in mind means having a well thought out and communicated purpose of the meeting. What is the end goal that everyone in attendance will accomplish? Meeting just for the sake of meeting because it recurs on the calendar can never be measured to be effective. Even with a regularly scheduled meeting, if there is no objective to achieve, it is better to cancel the meeting so those attendees may continue being productive. Now…why is this meeting being called?
At the end of the meeting, whether or not the goal was met should be easy to answer:
Yes, the objective was met.
The objective was partially met.
The objective was NOT met at all.
Consider the culture
What is the culture in the organization when it comes to meetings? Does everyone show up, or just those who are grateful for a break? How people put value in the institution of meeting plays a lot into the effectiveness of them being held.
Planning and execution
Some easy measures for the effectiveness of a meeting are the efficiency and execution. Was everything prepared and ready for the attendees?
Timing – Did the meeting take as long as expected? Did it start on time? If not, why?
Location – Was the location reserved and confirmed? Was it appropriate for the group?
Materials– Did the materials shared (paper, presentation, speaker) provide a worthwhile contribution to the attendees and to the objective?
Problems – Were there any unexpected plot twists in the meeting? What caused them and how may they be avoided in the future?
The level of engagement is a large contributing factor to the success and effectiveness of a meeting. That engagement may come from enthusiasm around the topic of the meeting or that of the facilitator. A meeting leader lacking enthusiasm will struggle to get the group going, or on the opposite spectrum, may struggle to control the group. Some contributing factors to healthy engagement are:
Right people attending
Having not just people, but “the right people” in attendance, can make the difference between an effective or ineffective meeting. For instance, if the objective of a meeting is to make a decision and the key decision makers do not attend, then the objective is doomed to fail. In addition to the decision makers, key stakeholders also need to be in attendance to offer their input to the decision.
Roles clarified prior
By clarifying why each participant is selected to attend a meeting, their value to the conversation is understood. This helps to direct the conversation and to keep the group in the scope of the objective.
Controlling the discussion and keeping it on-track and productive is the role of the facilitator of the meeting. How simple or difficult that task is really depends on the crowd.
Conflict – One thing to note about conflict is that it is NOT always negative. When making a decision, it is important for all parties to share any differing perspectives that the other participants may not be aware of. Keep the conversation objective by asking questions so each party’s perspective is clear.
Decisions and consensus– Were the participants able to reach a decision? Were all parties able share their views and perspectives? What was the level of difficulty?
Tone – Was the tone positive or negative with the participants? If negative, what was shared that would lead to a negative opinion of the topic?
New actions / next steps developed, assigned and documented
Signs of a successful meeting are when there are new takeaways. The group was engaged and stepping up to take on a task to progress the effort of the team or organization. The next step is to make sure that these takeaways were officially assigned, confirmed and documented.
Did the group openly share ideas? As new ideas and perspectives were shared, how well were they received?
Did everyone walk away from the meeting with clarity of the decision that was made, ideas presented and new actions to be completed?
With all of these thoughts so far, back to the top, was the overall purpose of the meeting achieved?
Self-assessment vs. participant evaluation
There are two ways to assess the effectiveness of a meeting. One is the facilitator assessing themselves and the other is by way of surveying the participants. A self-evaluator may review this entire list of details and possibilities, but when surveying the group, it is best to ask only a few questions such as:
Was the meeting objective accomplished?
Was the meeting a worthwhile use of time and resources?
Did everyone get a chance for their voice to be heard?
Opportunities for efficiency are everywhere!
These efficient practices are a start for getting the most out of any team in any business, so take this and some of our other tips and put them into practice right away!
At IT Efficiency Consulting, our primary focus is that of software development and developing the efficiency of those teams. From new hires to seasoned employees, ITEC reduces the need to add additional development resources by increasing the level of productivity of the existing team. Along with a heightened productivity also comes an increased level of quality. Want to see how the go-live schedule or time to market can stay on track without compromise? Contact ITEC and learn the difference and how customers enjoy continuous efficiency after we are gone.