Fast fact: the average employee wastes 31 hours a month in non-productive meetings. That's like throwing away a whole week's worth of productive time every single month.
While status meetings in particular are often painful, drawn-out affairs in which attendees check email or do other work, redesigning the meeting as an "Action Meeting" can turn it into a fast, weekly process for sharing project updates, distributing work, and improving collaboration. The goal of an Action Meeting is to quickly get your team together and capture the to-dos (AKA actions) required by the team this week. A well-trained team can breeze it in 30 minutes.
Ground Rules for an Action Meeting
- Be disciplined. Start on time. End on time. Keep distraction out. Keep the conversation focused.
- Don't problem solve in the room. This is a challenge, but don't use the meeting itself to try to solve a messy problem or come to a consensus on a decision. If a decision needs to get made, capture it as an action and move on. Schedule a quick follow up chat, or just pull the necessary people aside after the meeting to get it done.
- Elect roles. Be sure the meeting has a facilitator, someone responsible for moving the meeting along, and a scribe, someone responsible for capturing the actions generated by the team.
The Steps of an Action Meeting
- Check in. Ask each participant, “What's distracting you right now?”An example response might be,"I'm distracted by a deliverable due later today."
- Project updates. Ask each project owner, “What’s changed since last week?” Example: "Version one of the new site is ready for feedback."
- Build an agenda. Ask the room, “Who needs something from someone in this room?” For the sake of time, just ask for placeholder words/terms for each agenda item rather than having the person fully explain what they need. Example: "Site Feedback."
- Process the agenda. Ask each person, “What do you need?” Example: "I need everyone in this room to look at the new site this week and give us feedback."
- Closing round. Ask each participant, “How do you feel at the end of this meeting?" Example: "Good but tense, I think I got what I need, but there's a lot to do."
Takeaway: By making simple changes to your status meetings, you can exchange information faster and move on to doing real work, rather than getting stuck in a conference room for half a morning.