Meetings are a perpetual topic of debate in the business world as organizations strive to find balance between having enough meetings to maintain open communication and overwhelming the team with too many meetings. Meetings are a necessary part of any organization, but just about any employee can tell you stories about one-sided, never-ending, or irrelevant meetings.
If your employees don’t find value in the meetings they’re required to attend, it negatively impacts your employee engagement and productivity. But if meetings are approached correctly in an organization, they can actually increase engagement. Here are four tips for better meetings to improve employee engagement.
Have an agenda
This is one of the single most important aspects of better meetings. You should never go into a meeting without an agenda. An agenda lets everyone in attendance know what to expect for the meeting and gives them the opportunity to come prepared.
An agenda can also help improve overall focus at the meeting because people know what to expect. If an employee has specific feedback to offer about an upcoming project and can see that it’s on the agenda, they’ll likely spend less time wondering if that topic will be covered and more time focusing on the meeting.
Keep it relevant
It’s probably safe to say that every employee at some point in time has been in a meeting that they didn’t really need to attend. As you build your agenda and invite people to the meeting, make sure the topics are relevant for everyone. If half of the agenda requires extra people but the other half doesn’t, structure it so that the extra people can be dismissed when their part is finished.
Keep it short
In many organizations, meetings get scheduled for an hour by default. But what if the meeting really only needs to be 30 minutes or maybe 45? Some meetings might only need to be 15 or 20 minutes if you have a clear agenda and the right people at the table.
For those employees who spend a significant portion of their day in meetings, scheduling meetings for 45 minutes instead of an hour allows for checking email and acting on quick follow-up tasks in between meetings. It also helps keep subsequent meetings on schedule throughout the day.
Give employees an opportunity to speak
This is another critical aspect of successful meetings, whether one-on-one, all-company, or project meetings. If you want strong employee engagement, you must create an opportunity for employee feedback and questions during meetings.
By creating feedback loops in your organization, you encourage employees to be an active participant in the success of the company. Ultimately, this leads to a culture where employees feel empowered to offer suggestions for process improvement and ask questions (and receive honest answers) about company initiatives.
When I worked at Disney many years ago, each workday started with a 15-minute staff meeting where we heard a brief update about the other parks and had the opportunity to ask questions. When that short meeting ended, I was the most educated employee in the organization, and I knew how my role fit in the bigger picture.
Given that experience, I’m a big supporter of daily or weekly staff meetings as long as they’re short meetings with a clear agenda, relevant topics, and an opportunity for feedback. If your organization hasn’t tried this approach to meetings, give it a shot. You might be surprised at the results.