Death by Meetings aka Reviews

About three years ago, I decided to remove the recurring Team meeting from my calendar and that of my direct reports. Instead, we decided as a team that I will send an invite every week on a need basis. This has turned out to be one of the best stress relieving medicine we as a team have taken over the last 24 months.

Why is it that managers find the need to have reviews? Why is it that particularly in this part of the world we like to have a review to review the last review meeting? How come most employees HATE reviews especially with their direct bosses?

To put this into perspective, I am not saying meetings are bad, I am for meetings and by extension reviews, it is one of the many ways Teams, managers and leaders get feedback, a manager who hates meetings is like a surgeon who hates operating on people, really all that managers do is meetings aka reviews -okay, mostly 🙂 , and the solution is not the elimination of reviews, but rather making them meaningful, engaging and relevant. Here are some ways we have used to make our team reviews less painful , stressful and boring.

Sales Force…..Microsoft Excel et.al In my line of business, Sales Force and the old age excel have been of great help. If something can be obtained from a Sales Force report or an excel sheet, why do we need to review it in an actual physical meeting? As a team, we have found that sharing the report and strictly highlighting areas that need clarifications saves everyone’s time and makes life fun. So next time before you schedule that meeting, try logging into your company’s reporting tool and see if you can get that information from the “system” as opposed to wasting valuable time getting people into a room.

“Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.” these were the first words of Graham Bell in 1876 when he invented the Telephone. It is over one hundred years since the phone was invented yet a big number of managers are yet to use this revolutionary invention to hold a conference call with their team and quickly agree or plan on what needs to be done. Pick up the phone, conference your team and get it going. Do not drag everyone into that room that doesn’t have Air conditioning in the middle of the day.

long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest. aka short and sweet

Agenda….. Agenda….. Agenda….. Stick to the agenda. Keep the meeting short and sweet. In Africa, greetings , pleasantries and unnecessary stories find their way into meetings almost 90% of the time. As a team, we decided that only the first 5 – 7 minutes will be used for this purpose – this also caters for the African time (Time between the scheduled start time and ACTUAL start time), which tends to be longer but over time we have shortened this to ensure that the agenda is followed and stuck to. Every meeting MUST start on time, remain focused and have clear action points – including ownership and timelines.

In summary, First, embrace the technology that you have invested in, secondly keep the meetings short n Sweet and if possible schedule it Every single time, do not have a recurring meeting for over 1 month!!!.

What other things do you do to make your meetings productive?

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