Meetings can be problematic: too many, not enough, too long, too short, no takeaways, no agendas.
If we start with a simple agenda for each meeting we can make sure we stay on track and efficient. Here are a few ideas to help craft an effective agenda. We’ll focus on a “one-on-one” agenda in this example but you would use a variation of the framework for any group meeting. The times listed next to a topic are usually a maximum. If the given item is going well the meeting will move faster there and use less time than allocated. If the item is problematic it may take a bit longer and use more time than anticipated. Tune them to suit each meeting with each individual. They should be long enough to review all items and resolve the issues. I did this weekly with each given department head. Smaller teams were 30min/ea and larger teams were 45-60 min/ea.
I start off every meeting asking the person to tell me what is going on in their personal life. We are looking for big life events or changes. We use positive events to offer encouragement and congratulations, send a gift, etc. We use negative events to help provide support, offer assistance, and create context. As an example, if an employee is going through a hard time we are likely to see it impact their work life. That context allows us to be significantly more effective in our employee interactions.
Meeting Review (5min):
I want to know what other one-on-one’s, departmental, or cross-department meetings are being had by the individual. I’d also like to know the duration and frequency of each. I am looking to see if they are an active participant at each and if it is truly the best use of their time. There may be meetings I no longer want them to attend. There may be a meeting they should attend to help solve issues we are facing.
Cross Department (5min):
For each individual I have listed out the other departments they interact with. I am looking to only hear about issues they are facing with other departments. Imagine I have meetings with each department head and they all tell me they have an issue with accounting. That is a great piece of feedback to become actionable. Alternatively, there may be unique cross department dynamics that are more micro and need to be addressed from time to time. Great opportunity to remove friction.
Employee Development (5min):
If the employee manages a team I want to understand the development (not training) that is taking place. This can be all individuals within a team or a specific individual that needs improvement or correction. What is the goal, what steps are we taking, how is it going, do we need to invoke disciplinary action, etc? This section should not be blank or we have a problem.
Employee Training (5min):
If the employee manages a team I want to understand the training (not development) that is taking place. This can be all individuals within a team or a specific individual that needs training. Is this formal education (college), certifications, manufacturer training? What is the schedule? This section should not be blank or we have a problem.
Each department will have unique Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that will tell us the health of that department. Define them well. Measure them regularly. Review them with the person responsible for ensuring they are met. A good KPI is not a vanity metric but tells us when that portion of the machine is broken.
Initiative Review (5min):
A given person or team may be actively working on an internal project or projects. These initiatives need a check-in to make sure they are progressing and not hitting friction points. There should be defined goals, deliverables, timelines, etc. Anything that stands in the way should be discussed and corrected.
Calendar Review (5min):
Look at the employee’s calendar for at least two weeks. Are my meetings on there, are they on vacation, are they away at training, do I see any issues with what they are doing, do we need to reschedule anything? Plan ahead and create a schedule for them that will lead to the items being executed.