Create Successful Department Meetings with 4 Questions - UPDATED

Today, I want to talk to you about department meetings. At my last company, I noticed that if I could keep my finger on the pulse of the department meetings that were going on, I could improve their efficiency. I also saw that when people stopped showing up or contributing to those meetings, those departments would become less efficient and, therefore, less productive.

I realized they had a problem, and it was essential to figure out what was wrong and get everybody back on track.

There are four questions you need to ask yourself to have successful meetings.

The first question is: 

What are we talking about? What's the agenda? 

Not only does it help people understand the theme of the meeting and be prepared, but it gives them time to bring additional resources or agenda items to the table. 

The second question is: 

Who is attending the department meeting? 

First of all, we want the employees in the department to show up. And, we need to make sure if other people need to attend, those decision-makers (or their representatives) are in the meeting. The last thing we want is to have a department meeting with a defined agenda, but we don't have everyone required to help us reach a conclusion. We must have the right people in the room to make final decisions so that the department can move forward.

The third question is:

How long will the meeting take? 

We have to set a time limit on meetings for two reasons: 

#1) it's going to let people know you respect their time, and 

#2) it will keep people focused. 

Define a specific amount of time for the meeting and a set agenda. It lets people know we must get through these agenda items, then we're moving on. We can't just sit around and talk forever.

I always say it's very similar to when you were in grade school. If you were anything like me, you waited until the day before your book report was due to start it! 

Meetings at times can be very similar. If you don't set a time limit, people will extend it because they don't want to make a decision or they use the meeting as an excuse not to get other tasks done.

We've all heard it before, "Oh, I didn't get that done. I was in a meeting." 

Setting a duration eliminates all of that. We're going to meet for 30 minutes, and here's what we're going to discuss. And oh, by the way, we've got all the right people in the room!

The fourth question is: 

When is it? When is the meeting going to take place? 

If this is a department meeting, you must have one every week, and it needs to be on a fixed day/time. Sometimes, people aren't going to be able to attend, but you want to make sure that they're attending the majority of the time. People need to understand this is the most critical meeting of their week, so attendance is imperative.

If someone isn't showing up consistently, that needs to be addressed separately.

That's the four-step process. By asking yourself these questions, your department meetings will get better and better each week because you're meeting consistently, going over issues, getting them resolved to a conclusion, and moving forward.

It's what we call a fixed agenda experience.

The great news is if you're a Work.software subscriber, the software does all of this for you! It has one little feature that is just brilliant, and that is the ability of any user to suggest agenda items for your department meetings. Attendees adding agenda items fosters collaboration and employee engagement, which will be a topic for a future blog post.

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