“There is nothing inherent about meetings that makes them bad, and so it’s entirely possible to transform them into compelling, productive and fun activities.”
- Patrick Lencioni
Most leaders spend a large portion of their working time in meetings. In fact, for executives, meetings account for over 50% of working time.
If the conversations are productive, relationships are enriched, and things are getting done, this makes sense. If you’re a leader who dreads every meeting or views meetings as wasted time, it’s time to tighten up on your team’s meeting experience and general outcomes.
Since most executives spend over 50% of their work week in meetings, there is simply too much time, money and energy invested into meetings to allow them to cause a constant leadership headache.
Mastering meetings is a critical ingredient in the recipe for creating a strong and healthy organization. Operating from higher levels of cohesion, clarity and communication naturally creates greater collaboration, better use of time, sound decision making and increased results.
An effective meeting structure is one of the simplest solutions to mastering meetings. In his book “Death by Meeting”, Patrick Lencioni recommends a four-part meeting model.
Daily Huddle – Think of this daily check-in meeting as a football huddle. Keep it short and stay standing up. The only reason it exists is to help everyone review intentions and plans for the day. If priorities need to shift, it allows the team to collectively address those changes quickly.
Weekly Tactical – This is a weekly 45–90-minute meeting that is highly structured. First, in the lightning round everyone takes a minute to state priorities. Then, a team’s progress on its rally cry and defining objectives are reviewed. After this review, an agenda is set that ensures airtime is given to the most important focuses.
Ad Hoc Strategic – Since an organization’s strategy changes far less frequently than its tactics, an ad hoc strategy meeting is held on an as-needed basis to solve specific problems, brainstorm new opportunities and revisit current approaches to processes, services, and products.
Quarterly Review – A ½ day to 1-day quarterly meeting is essential to sustaining leadership team and organizational health. To optimize these meetings, design the conversation around four specific review areas: overall leadership team strategy, team cohesion, personnel, and the operating environment.
One key distinctive of this model is the planning process related to what will/will not be discussed at a given meeting. Intentionality helps everyone better prepare, manage energy and stay on topic.
One reason I love Lencioni’s meeting model is that it accounts for strategic and often bypassed team conversations. While most teams do well with daily huddles or stand ups and weekly team meetings, topical or strategic meetings are typically more challenging. Many teams simply fail to create space on the calendar to consistently discuss bigger issues with long-term ramifications; however, moving these conversations forward is critical to accomplishing your mission.