I’m a father, endurance athlete, and entrepreneur. My time is limited. Yours probably is too. So I suspect that you, like me, have no patience for unproductive meetings.
The best part of being the guy in charge: I don’t have to sit there stewing about all the important stuff I could be doing. I just pull the plug on the meeting early. I don’t want my employees wasting their time either.
Still, there are certain meetings I always make time for. Business always has always been, and always will be, about people. You need to know those who work for you, as well as those you’re working for.
That means meetings. No matter how inconvenient they sometimes seem, they inform us about corporate culture, team dynamics, energy, enthusiasm, personalities, and more. They also provide us with an opportunity to bond on a personal level, which can help cement professional relationships and business commitments.
To this end, here are three types of meetings I never skip.
1. Innovation Meetings
These are meetings where, as a group, we paint a blank canvas. They often start slow but become fun, and they’re vital to the success of every organization. For best results:
- Embrace conflict. Don’t invite just your pals or subordinates. If everyone shows up in total agreement, why have a meeting? Bring in outsiders, boat rockers, people who see the company differently from you. That’s when the magic happens.
- Make everyone contribute. Great ideas can come from anyone, at any time. Successful people know this and embrace it. Make sure the introverts get the floor too.
- Shake it up. If your people think of the conference room as the place with the boring Monday finance meetings, you’ll never innovate there. Go somewhere else. I love having meetings outside. Shaking out the cobwebs will generate fresh insight.
2. Decision-Making Meetings
The purpose of these meetings is to discuss and resolve a single pressing problem. Usually the goal is to identify, agree upon, and implement a strategy for improvement. This, of course, can mean significant change for an organization. When you get everyone’s input, you’re more likely to make a strong decision—and you’re also more likely to have organization-wide support for the change.
These meetings work best when everyone is supplied with the necessary facts beforehand. If you need to bring attendees up to speed to get the discussion started, you’re wasting resources. You’re also depriving attendees of time they could have used to brainstorm their best ideas.
Important: Just because you’re seeking input from everyone doesn’t mean you’re making the decision by committee. If everyone advises red, you can still pick yellow. You’re the boss.
3. Team-Building Meetings
Every meeting should be a team-building meeting to a certain extent, reinforcing the organization’s culture and forging connections between people. But you should occasionally have focused team-building gatherings too.
These meetings, which often feature activities or speakers, are less about business and more about improving teamwork, building relationships, and busting down invisible walls. You want your staff to go back to work the next morning still talking excitedly about what happened. People remember experiences, not things.
But here’s the rub: A ping-pong tournament or motivational speaker, no matter how fun or engaging, can’t compensate for a toxic culture. If your people have to go back to their desks afterward and stay late to finish their work, they’ll end up resenting you for—you guessed it—wasting their time with a meeting.
That, I don’t have to tell you, is not good for business.
Ready to give Spartan a try? Here’s everything you need to know to find your race.