Three people in a meetingI often hear employees I am consulting with say that they don’t mind going to meetings but that they feel like their meetings don’t get anything accomplished and feel like a waste of time. As a manager how do you make meetings productive and engaging for your employees? Here’s a couple tips:

  1. Keep it relatively short. In an effort to limit the number of meetings many mangers have longer meetings less frequently. I would discourage this. Most of us can only sit still and remain focused for an hour or less. Have meetings weekly instead of less frequently. Keep your general meetings to an hour or less. If it is a specific strategic meeting with your high level staff keep it under 2 hours, and include a ten minute break.
  2. Have meetings at the same day and time weekly. If you always have your meetings on Monday mornings or Wednesday mornings everyone knows to make sure their schedule allows for that time and can be prepared to send any items that need to be discussed to the facilitator in advance of the meeting.
  3. Create an agenda and send it out to the participants before the meeting so that they can be prepared to participate. Create realistic time frames for each topic of discussion. Don’t be afraid to end early if you have accomplished all that you intended.
  4. Stick to the agenda time frames. If you don’t fully complete a discussion table it and return to it at the next meeting.
  5. Have a designated person that takes meetings minutes at each meeting and sends it out immediately following the meeting to all meeting participants. Make sure the minutes include specific details about any follow up steps that participants agreed to take.
  6. Bring coffee or healthy food snacks. (Steer clear of sugar as everyone will be in a slump within 30 minutes of eating it.) Having food and drinks gives people something to look forward to besides just a meeting.

Allow things like koosh balls, stress balls, or other mindless activities that people do with their hands, like doodling. Many of us focus better when our hands a busy doing something mindless.