Many of us have seen the 1993 movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in which Bill’s character, a weatherman, relives the same day over and over. While he learns to take advantage and make the most of it, he eventually yearns to get out of the loop of repetitiveness he is stuck in.
In honor of this national holiday and classic movie, let’s look at the Groundhog Day of meeting issues and suggestions for getting out of the potentially negative loop we can get lost in and find our way to running effective meetings.
The Same Agenda
We all fall victim, whether we create it ourselves or attend a meeting, with a repetitive agenda from meeting to meeting. Obviously a recurring meeting will have a similar theme however, the work moving in and out changes so, why doesn’t the agenda change with it?
TRY THIS: Make the meeting’s goal specific to what you hope to accomplish during the meeting and make the agenda items unique in support of the goal. Formulate each agenda item as a question to state exactly what you want to know or decide by the time the meeting is over.
Late Start, Late Finish
Meetings that start late don’t finish on time unless a drill sergeant walks in the room. If that happens, chances are the meeting didn’t start late). Things happen whether traffic, being overbooked, a meeting before ran long blocking your access to a room, or you were on time but a decision-maker wasn’t. So many reasons. But what happens is a domino effect. One late person makes a late meeting which makes other meetings late.
TRY THIS: Being on time sounds obvious but no matter what, keep being on time. Starting on time no matter who is there results in a subliminal message and creates a consistent and meeting positive culture. Can’t be on time? Let someone know immediately once you know to be kind, proactive, and respectful of others’ time.
Different Day, Same Topic
This one isn’t about a boring agenda. This one is about not covering a topic adequately and having it linger from meeting to meeting to meeting. Add up the salaries of each person and the hours spent on the topic quickly reveal whether it was worth it. We are not saying that all topics get resolved immediately but with planning, thought, and care, avoiding repeat conversations is entirely possible.
TRY THIS: Plan the topic in advance with careful consideration. Think about the question or issues that need to be solved for, solicit feedback on the subject matter experts, and if answers or solutions are not realized the first time, record notes and actions using meeting tool like Docket to ensure the next session starts off with more information to keep moving forward.
Lot’s of Talk, No Actions
It is so easy as a manager or facilitator to allow free-flowing discussion around topics that require cross-functional input or are complex in nature. Everyone in the room is so focused and walks out energized, satisfied, and aligned. So why does it happen time and time again that the next time you reconvene, no one recalls where we left off, actions discussed have no update, and an entire beginning of the meeting is a repeat of last?
TRY THIS: Include a 5-10 minute section at the end of each agenda, to reflect on decisions and actions. Record these as a team before anyone leaves to ensure agreement and alignment. Have team members record their own tasks during this time in a shared meeting tool like Docket to have them written with the ask or expectation to ensure they are comfortable with the request and desired deadline.
If meetings are set to repeat anything, try a few of these alternatives and make meetings awesome!