5 Ways to Get Results From Your Meetings

Mark thought he’d done everything right. He prepped the conference room, made sure the air was on so no one would fall asleep, and told everyone to put their phones away when they came in. Acknowledging that everyone’s time was valuable, Mark started right on time (well, almost!) and dove right into the short agenda he’d worked hard to prepare. He announced the policy change that was in question, fielded a few questions and concerns, and wrapped up the meeting in less than thirty minutes so everyone could get back to work. But the next day, everyone seemed uncertain about how to move forward with the new information. Mark received several complaints and confused requests for explanations about how the policy change would affect various employees. Clearly, something had been missing from Mark’s meeting, but what could it be?

Meetings are a challenge that every employer has to face, and they can be especially tough if employees don’t want to be there! That’s why proving yourself as a leader who values employees’ time is imperative, says Forbes contributor Neal Hartman of MIT Sloan School of Management. Knowing exactly what objectives you want to accomplish, inviting only those who are affected or who can help solve the problem, sticking to a schedule, and sending participants a thorough follow-up memo outlining what was discussed are important to your meeting’s success. But what if you’ve done all the right things, yet afterward, you still don’t get the results you wanted from your employees?

It may be that, like many managers, you’re missing the necessary skill of closure, says Paul Axtell, corporate trainer, Harvard Business Review contributor, and author of the recent book, Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversation. “Closure is more often than not the missing link between meetings and impact. Without it, things can be left unsaid, unchallenged, unclear, and/or uncommitted. Each agenda item should be considered incomplete unless it is wrapped up in a thoughtful, deliberate way.”

So what’s the best way to wrap up a discussion to ensure that employees will carry out what’s been decided upon? According to Axtell, there are five ways to get results from your meetings:

  1. Make sure you’ve completely dealt with one topic before moving on to another.
  2. Be sure everyone is aligned with the decision and its outcome.
  3. Clarify exactly what next steps each participant will commit to taking before the next meeting.
  4. Affirm the value of having decided on a plan of action and restate the takeaways from the meeting.
  5. Acknowledge contributors who led to the decisions that were reached.

If you’re frustrated with the way your meetings have gone, and disappointed with the lack of results or action from your employees afterward, take the experts’ advice. Work on honing your closing skills before your next meeting using these five tips. Then watch the forward movement that occurs as your people are clear on the strategy, aligned with the decision, and committed to the plan of action.

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