How to Hold Productive Meetings That People Don’t Actually Hate

This post is one in a series of tips for making your small business run better and is sponsored by UPS.

Scheduled communication may be one of the most powerful team and accountability building tools available when done the right way.

photo credit: MoDOT Photos

Meetings are an essential aspect of getting things done, collaborating and delegating, but for many they are the bane of business life. People actually leave companies because of the life draining nature of their meeting culture.

This commonly accepted feeling about meetings comes about because most people have been trained to handle meeting in one of two ways.

One is the “I hate meetings, so just come to me if you have a problem” method. Of course this is quite possibly the most frustrating approach for all concerned. This approach leads to lots of wasted time and the every ten minute or so interruption.

The other approach is what I refer to as the “I’ve called a meeting, but it’s really a reading” approach. In this approach managers read from a list of to-dos that could have been sent via email and then propose some things to try to get buy in.

This second approach eventually leads to adopting the first “I hate meetings” attitude and drains any sense of commitment from all involved.

Here’s the deal: you need meetings, perhaps frequently, but you need them to be energetic, useful and in the words of consultant Al Pittampalli – modern.

In Read This Before Our Next Meeting, Pittampalli lists the seven attributes of what he calls the modern meeting. This is a great framework for how to think about meetings that generate energy and action.

1. The Modern Meeting supports a decision that has already been made.
2. The Modern Meeting starts on time, moves fast, and ends on schedule.
3. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees.
4. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared.
5. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans.
6. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.
7. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.

Read Pittampalli’s book before your next meeting and consider making it a gift to everyone in your organization.

Adopting this approach to meetings and making it the “accepted meeting protocol” in your organization will reduce the need for meetings that drain, hold anyone that calls or attends a meeting accountable for action and even keep the boss on task. (Well, maybe)

Pittampalli’s last point can’t be emphasized enough.

Brainstorming is an essential business tool as well, but it’s not the same as a meeting. Meetings are for making decisions, brainstorming sessions are to throw out ideas, discuss constraints, test theories and get feedback on ideas.

You need an entirely different framework for brainstorming. You need to frame the idea, throw roles and titles and encourage big thinking. (And, don’t forget to feed everyone well.) In fact, brainstorming sessions should be held offsite in settings that encourage and foster creativity.

Far too many meetings are really just protracted brainstorming sessions where little gets done. Hold advertised brainstorming sessions as special events to take advantage of this unique tool, but resist the temptation to bring this dynamic into meetings.

Again, meetings are for making decisions, most everything else can be handled with email, IMs and texts.

This applies to team meetings, all hands meeting and even one on one meetings.

Embrace this mindset and watch what happens to the energy, accountability and action produced from meeting that nobody hates.

Are Relationship Management Skills a Predictor of Success

This post is one of a series of posts sponsored by UPS in support of the Inc Growco Conference held April 6-8 in Las Vegas, NV

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back has built a multimillion dollar business out of his passionate message regarding relationships. In fact, he boldly claims that relationship management skills are the number one predictor of the success of an organization.

Now, to some, the idea of intentionally managing the relationships in your life, both personal and professional, may seem a tad contrived, and it certainly can be, but it’s really a matter of focus.

The things you pay attention to, the things you focus on will thrive and grow. With the crush of business running responsibility shouting in your ear, it can be easy to neglect your most important relationships. This can be true of a spouse or an important customer.

On the stage in Las Vegas, Ferrazzi’s presentation lacked cohesion. It felt as though he was giving a two hour presentation in a one hour time slot, but there is no way to ignore how much he believes in the power of the personal relationship as a tool to grow your business.

I’ve read and reviewed both of Keith’s books and appeared on a panel discussion with Keith and Seth Godin. I think Keith’s message is an essential part of the overall marketing mix and one that must be incorporated into your daily and weekly rituals.

Here’s an action step takeaway for you to sink your time into today:

  • Identify the 50 most important people to your business (this list will includes clients and current relationships, but it should also include people you would like to form a relationship with – stretch a little here)
  • Pick out 5 people on this list and do your homework on them (Use social media to learn more about what they are talking about)
  • Reach out to each one with a specific action item or way to help them

Simple, small steps, taken repeatedly in a focused and sincere effort to help others get what they want might be the best way to summarize relationship management at its finest.

If you want to take long term dive into Ferrazzi’s approach check out his Relationship Academy

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