Most meetings are a colossal waste of time, energy, and attention.
To give you an idea of how big this problem is, 53% of workers spend over 4 hours per day in meetings, yet only 30% of the meetings are productive. If that needed to be more eye-opening, unproductive meetings cost US businesses an estimated $37 Billion annually.
However, before you start clearing your calendar or refusing to attend scheduled meetings, not all meetings are bad.
Just because most meetings are a waste doesn't mean they all are. When leaders prioritize, plan, and arrange effective meetings, they achieve four primary outcomes:
Improve productivity and communication within a team
Identify and solve problems
Increase collaboration and morale
Set and track progress toward goals
Getting the opportunity to work with hundreds of organizations and coaching thousands of leaders, every single one of them could benefit from improving productivity, solving problems, increasing collaboration, and setting and tracking goals. Clearly, meetings shouldn't just go away.
There is one particular type of meeting that the best leaders refuse to go without, and it's what I call the Team Alignment Meeting or TAM. This Team Alignment meeting is a weekly or bi-weekly meeting that isn't missed unless there is a national emergency because the best leaders know this critical leadership principle:
The performance and connection of a team relies on a consistent cadence of communication.
At a bare minimum, this consistent communication cadence is the Team Alignment Meeting.
Every successful team alignment meeting has a clear agenda and purpose. Here is an example of critical elements from a Team Alignment Meeting for you to copy or get ideas. You can also download the Team Alignment Meeting Planner for Free Here.
1.Highlight individual successes from the last seven days - Creating an intentional space for colleagues to share successes from the previous week provides an outlet to feel like their work and effort are recognized and matter. While this might seem trivial, we need this in our lives. Too many people feel alone and disconnected in their personal and professional lives.
2. Share the truth about current performance & progress - Napolean famously said, "A leader's job is to define reality and to deliver hope." Sharing the truth about the recent performance and progress is a terrific way to define reality. This is paramount because all improvement starts with the truth. Teams must know where they stand so positive progress can be measured.
3. Get problems, issues, and opportunities in the open - Much like a family; every team has problems, issues, and opportunities in front of them. No team is immune to challenges. Actively listening to team members sharing what they are struggling with and working to overcome provides space to coach and solve problems.
Actively listening to team members sharing what they are struggling with provides space to coach and solve problems.
Leaders must be careful not to allow this portion of the Team Alignment Meeting to become a complaining, excuse, or venting session. Guide the conversation to solutions.
4. Align goals and priorities - One of the biggest challenges any leader faces is having people swimming in different directions. Use this time to align the team around a common goal and set priorities. This ensures communication is maintained around where the team is going and where they should be focused.
5. Fill the energy tank or skill gap - Last but certainly not least is adding energy and building skills. Every team requires energy to create momentum.
Every team requires energy to create momentum.
Share an inspiring story, a practical tool, or roleplay skills that are critical to success. When leaders achieve this kind of progress in a meeting, it creates clarity, provides focus, and makes team members feel known, appreciated, and important.
The best team meetings create clarity, provide focus, and make team members feel important.
You will attend many meetings this week, all with different objectives. Some will undoubtedly be a waste of time, energy, and attention. However, if you lead a team, don't go without a Team Alignment Meeting another week. Your people might not like the calendar invite, but once they experience the value associated with the meeting, it will be the one meeting on the calendar they look forward to instead of dread.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.