Expert Panel

Common job issues and solutions in Workplace Communication Skills

Your meetings are not productive.


We've all had the unfortunate experience of spending our day tied up in unproductive meetings.  So what are you doing to ensure you don’t waste your time or the time of others?  It does not matter whether you are a VP, Team Leader, have an MBA, or none of the above, because the power of influence transcends titles and educational backgrounds.  It is a reflection of ones ability to communicate, be understood and inspire actions in others.  So let’s focus on improving your ability to influence success.  Here are eight actions you can implement in your current team environment to gain influence no matter what your job is today.


1: Identify the attributes/expertise of team members.

What do you bring to the table and what attributes do other team members bring?  Figure out a way to identify these things and share them with the group.  Anyone can begin this exercise by starting with him or herself, then sitting down with others on the team to put an expertise matrix together.  Once you get it started, the others have something that they can add to or adjust.  You will provide the entire group with a resource document to help in assigning tasks, as well as a go-to guide for internal team resources.  It also brings value if you include external resources in the document.


2: Create multiple project leadership and support roles within the team.

As a member of the team you can volunteer to lead a breakout group, or if you are in charge, assign leadership of breakout groups to each member of the team, as well as assign support groups.  A support group is a portion of the team dedicated to the breakout leader.  Everyone leads something and follows something.  This cross-collaboration will ensure everyone is supportive of one another’s success because they want the support for their own project.


3: Conduct all actionable work outside of team meetings.

The main reason we feel our time is wasted in meetings is because it is.  Meetings should not be the beginning of work, or the continuation of what was discussed the last time you had a meeting.  The real actionable work should be conducted outside and prior to the meeting.


4: Involve non-team members and give appropriate credit to them.

Pull others into your work if you think they can add value and help move things along.  By doing so you are building your credibility as a leader.  Take every opportunity to give these individuals credit whether they are in the room or not.  People find out through the grapevine if you are giving credit to them; it pays dividends.


5: Create a formal meeting structure/routine.

You start this with your own actions in each meeting.  By creating a routine that is informative, productive and repetitive, others will follow your lead.  The lack of this initiative leads to mundane, useless meetings…be the one to correct that.


6: Ensure meeting time is used for updating others on completed work, committing to next steps, and finalizing collective decisions.

You can control this action no matter who you are.  If you come prepared to the meeting, you can make it productive, show you have done your part to move things along and walk out with actionable items that others will jump on because they see productivity.  The group will respect the fact that you are getting things done, and you will set the stage for what is expected from the rest of the team.


7: Create a success metric for the team.

Your team may have a mission, a purpose, or a project definition…but does it have a success metric?  You should be able to establish key metrics that can be monitored by the team to judge if goals are being met.  A sales team can review new accounts by person & by group, Operations can review reduction of quality complaints, or lead-times, a project team can review milestone dates.  What is the purpose of your team, and how can you visualize success?  Once again, you don’t need to lead the team to propose and create a success metric.


8: Rotate meeting facilitation throughout the group.

Active participation in team meetings improves when each member of the team has an appreciation for leading the meeting, as well as participating in it.   If you are the team leader, you can implement this right away.  If you are a member of the team, you can ask to lead a meeting and encourage this process for others.


Part of being on a team is participation.  If you just show up to meetings because they are on your calendar, then you can’ t complain that your time is being wasted because you are part of the problem.  Step up, implement these eight actions in your team and begin the process of influencing change.  At the end of the day you will see that people will follow your lead, meetings will be more productive, you will show more success and will probably spend less time in meetings.  The reason we have meetings so often is because they are unproductive.  If everyone grows confidence that goals are being met outside of the meeting, the inevitable result is to meet less often.


Do you emphasize your own opinions when you give presentations at work?