Good meetings are organized, well facilitated, and have a clear, preconceived purpose. But there are always those meetings that seem like a waste of time from the get-go.
If your architecture or engineering firm is interested in holding such meetings with your internal team or client group, below are nine, easy-to-follow, proven guidelines that should be followed at every project gathering.
1. Hold frequent meetings, even if unnecessary. Everyone enjoys spending their days sitting in meetings, particularly when there is nothing to discuss. Principals like to know that their staff is being kept from productive work.
2. Don’t prepare an agenda. Agendas outline limited expectations and discourage participants from going off on tangents. Meetings should allow anyone to discuss anything that pops into their head.
3. Don’t have clear objectives. Everyone loves surprises! Be sure not to inform anyone ahead of time what the purpose or agenda items are. This way, they won’t have an opportunity to think about things ahead of time or come prepared.
4. Start meetings about ten minutes late. By not starting at the scheduled time, you reward those who are late, and you provide break time to those who arrived promptly.
5. Encourage participants to arrive late. You don’t want your team to think that you take these meetings too seriously. Develop a precedent where attendees can arrive when convenient, and can come and go as they please.
6. Allow everyone to talk at once. Nobody likes a control freak, so rather than taking the lead and being the meeting facilitator, sit quietly in your chair while everyone engages in directionless banter.
7. Schedule meetings for late in the day. People are at their most energetic and productive near the end of the work day, right before they start thinking about heading home or having dinner.
8. Don’t take notes or record decisions. No one reads meeting minutes anyway, so why waste your time recording decisions and distributing notes. Instead, just try to memorize everything, and hope that others are doing the same.
9. Assign action items to groups rather than individuals. By tagging action items to a group of people – or not at all – no one can be held personally accountable when tasks aren’t completed on schedule or performed to a high quality.
It might be helpful to print this list and hang it in your company’s conference room. Distribute the list at your next meeting, to get everyone on board.
We hope this worst practice checklist does nothing less than help you make your meetings more effective!
Whether you are trying to become a leader in your firm or are an employer looking to develop leaders for your firm's future success, you will find simple, yet effective leadership development strategies in PSMJ's complimentary e-book Five Must-Have Skills for Future A/E Firm Leaders.
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