Six Steps to More Efficient and Productive Office Meetings
Office meetings, while critical to the overall mission, are often the most unproductive periods of time. Whether you are gathering with your litigation team or with your office manager to discuss payroll, office meetings are often poorly managed and wasteful of everyone’s time and energies. If you ever decided to take in a stopwatch and track how much time was wasted, I genuinely believe you would immediately start following these six simple steps to make each and every office meeting more efficient and productive:
Before you contact the team to get together for an office meeting, create a defined start and stop time on the calendar. And, more importantly, notify your team of the meeting’s start and stop time. Creating structure by ensuring that your team knows that time is valuable will ensure that your law firm’s next meeting doesn’t involve Janice from accounting going on a 20-minute talk about her cat’s fur.
Create an Agenda
When you decide to schedule the next office meeting, be sure to include a reasonably detailed agenda of topics and items that need to be discussed. Moreover, be sure to include what the solution, action or outcome should be for each topic. For example, your agenda may include a topic such as “Deciding to Hire New Employee – Outcome: Hire/Postpone/Do not Proceed.” Should your team have a reasonably detailed agenda, they will be able to enter the meeting knowing what will be discussed and may be able to present a better solution in less time. I would recommend having the agenda available for the team’s review when the meeting is initially scheduled.
Gather the Necessaries
If the meeting will require the team to review information or data, be sure to have that ready as early as possible so that the team may actually spend some time reviewing the material. If you will be discussing something complicated, be sure to give the team plenty of opportunity to review what is being discussed beforehand. Moreover, consider emailing the documents so that the team can bring their own device, if needed. Nothing is more annoying than having to send someone to make copies in the middle of the meeting. Postponing or delaying the meeting because the necessary documents, graphics or whatever weren’t prepared simply wastes more time.
When it comes to management meetings or advertising meetings, I often encourage my own team to ensure that everyone has received and reviewed the information or data before the meeting starts. If the team is not prepared or has not had enough time to review the material, why meet? Additionally, you can limit the amount of time needed for a meeting by instructing the team to review the materials before the meeting.
Manage the Meeting
Be sure that your meetings are productive and pleasant. There can be little doubt that reasonable minds may differ in opinion and approach to solving the law firm’s problems; however, ensure that someone is responsible for moderating the meeting and making sure that it stays on topic. A meeting moderator can go a long way to guaranteeing that your meetings are successful.
Don’t Meet Unnecessarily
If you have scheduled a meeting and you discover that some needed information or documents are not available to review, consider rescheduling the meeting. Moreover, don’t just meet to have a meeting. Ask yourself if a meeting is important enough to have and whether any discussion is actually needed.
Document Your Meetings
If you have appointed a meeting moderator, ask said moderator to confirm with the team what decisions or actions have been decided at the end of the meeting. This meeting confirmation should or can be sent to the entire team via email as well. If there were topics that were not addressed or decided, reschedule appropriately. However, the most important facet of any meeting is to document the decisions that have been made and the people involved in making the decision.
The consequences of conducting bad meetings can be significant. Most people do not realize that poorly conducted meetings can cost your team morale, time and energy. Moreover, conducting good meetings can be easy. If you are interested in building your practice and developing a stronger team, it is essential to know that good teams know how and when to meet.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h