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Change Your Meetings and Keep the Change

By Mariah C. Dean

Changing only one meeting is like changing a light bulb

Changing meetings one at a time is like trying to create more sunlight by putting in brighter light bulbs. The most effective way to improve all the meetings in your organization is to do it widely and get everyone involved in making meetings work.

1000 managers surveyed want less time in meetings

In the 1000 managers I surveyed, 98% said they would like to spend less time in meetings. The motivation to make meetings more efficient, people just feel overwhelmed at what is and do not know how to change them. The way to do it is to change all of them. If you only teach a few managers to make meetings more efficient and send them back into an old structure, they are going to be frustrated by the efficiencies in other meeting, an have a hard time getting everyone adopting their new practices. That is why is it is so important to change all meetings and get the tools and understanding into everyone’s hands.

A change people can get excited about

You will get happy people when they realize if they use this approach, they actually will have more hours in their day to work on priority projects and respond to customers. People leave efficient meetings motivated (instead of de-motivated after having wasted time in an inefficient meeting).

It is an organizational change that will have less resistance than almost other organizational change you can name!

Ready to dive in and reap broad scale returns?

Wait! . .Here are a few things to remember:

    1. Change all the meetings at the same time as an across-the-board organizational change
    2. Have a method that everyone uses in all meetings
    3. Use tools and roles to get everybody participating and contributing during each meeting
    4. Teach everyone the method – not just the meeting leaders. That way everyone is accountable for meeting results and success
    5. Use podcasts to cost effectively train everyone on the new approach
    6. You need to carefully create your strategy and key players to implement a change like this
    7. I recommend following Kotter’s (Harvard) steps from his book Leading Change:

   Kotter’s Change Model outlines 8 essential steps of change management:

    1. Establish a sense of urgency
    2. Form a guiding coalition
    3. Create a vision
    4. Communicate the vision
    5. Empower others to act on the vision
    6. Create short-term wins
    7. Consolidate improvements and produce still more change
    8. Make changes permanent: Don't go back to the old ways.
    9. Get rid of outmoded methods & bring in the new:

Replace minutes with user friendly, easy to email docs like the DALI (Log of Decisions, Actions and Information in an easy to read matrix log format).

    1. Give people formats & strategies to make video conferencing efficient & like being there
    2. Set up structures and formats that make meeting communication clearer – Sticking to these keeps people out of the emotional swamps
    3. Write outcome-focused agendas to focus time & energy on specific outcomes

Agendas drive everything; use goal focused agendas to help people to stay focused & reduce the possibly of tangents.