How to make team meetings more effective

In this part of John Raftery’s series on visual management he addresses the problem of team meetings that lack purpose, and have little effect on performance. Due to a lack of delegation and accountability meetings will often drift off the agenda, with team members no better off after the meeting than they were before it. What can managers do to correct this? Here John explains how to make team meetings more effective, and how a simple visual aid like a Gantt Chart can transform meetings.

Team leaders must track performance

‘What companies need are not meetings for meetings sake. Meetings do have a bad name and the reason they have a bad name is because they go on too long and tend to go off track. People often come in ill-prepared for the meeting, then minutes are taken and issued out. People don’t look at those minutes until just before the next meeting takes place, so nobody really takes any action. The meetings just go on and on indefinitely, without really achieving anything. There is no tracking mechanism to see how effective the meetings are.

Visual Management

The simplest and most effective way to make meetings useful and efficient is, once again, to introduce the concept of visual management. If you were to do a Google search on work plans you will probably see lots of different examples of plans which are basically Gantt Charts. Instead of issuing minutes to the team after a meeting, all you need to do is take your weekly or monthly meeting and divide it up into 4 or 5 core areas.

Creating accountability

Under each of those core areas you will have different lines of action in the left hand column. The next column will show who the owners of the lines of action are, in other words who’s responsible for implementing those actions. Then divide up the right hand side of the page with a timeline of 12 months or 52 weeks. There you track the activities by colour coding them using green, orange and red. Green indicating actions completed successfully within the timeline, orange indicating actions delayed or postponed and red indicating actions incomplete within the timeline.

How to make team meetings more effective_visual managementYou can then print this Gantt chart out on an A3 sheet of paper, and this can act as a very effective tool in managing team meetings. Not only does it show what people should be working on and what’s coming up next, it also helps you to track the things you have achieved over the year. As more and more items are shaded green, you get a good overall picture of the progress that’s being made. It’s a very simple but effective tool that gets away from the standard process of meetings that can often drift off course, and where no real progress reporting gets done.’

John Raftery is a business advisor and executive coach at LEAP.

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