Time’s up!


The beast that is a necessary part of what we do when we work in teams and groups.

An activity that can either energize us and focus our efforts or drain us and lead us to disengage.

I love a meeting that is focused, that is well run, and that lets everyone at the table have an opportunity to weigh in.  I particularly love it when we’re able to “wrap up” with next steps that include accountability for team members.  Putting those items into meeting notes then following up on commitments are how we become more effective.

I loathe a meeting that meanders, that belabors points, that allows those who talk a lot to monopolize the group’s time, censoring the wisdom of those who don’t always speak up first.  Good ideas don’t necessarily get a platform, and those holding those ideas may end up not feeling valued.  Again, disengagement is where good organizations go to die.

I’ve recently been experimenting with a couple of new spins on meetings.  One is the idea of not scheduling them for the Outlook-mandated hour; most of my meetings get scheduled for 45 minutes.  This is conscious because (1) very few things actually need a full hour and (2) it gives me travel time/ recovery time/ task switching time in between.  I’m particularly possessive of the buffer when the prior or following meetings are ones that I anticipate to be challenging or complex. Some have advocated for 30 minute meetings, a practice I haven’t yet quite adopted. Perhaps that’s next.

The other experiment is putting a time stamp/ shot clock onto meeting agendas that are tailored to how long discussions should optimally take. While this forces an adjustment for groups that haven’t worked with them before, they definitely do adapt over time…and it helps keep the meetings on-target and on time.  Two things are key to making the shot clock work.  First, have a timekeeper who keeps everyone honest and lets you know where you are versus the allotted time as it approaches.  Second, have a “parking lot” for ideas that come up and don’t fit within the boundaries of the current discussion.  During the meeting wrap-up portion, make sure to generate a follow-up plan for things put into the parking lot.

Happy time-effective meetings to you!