Four Tips For Productive Departmental Meetings

For many people, the weekly departmental or project status meeting is nothing more than a necessary evil. For others, however, they’re a horrible test of endurance and a complete waste of time. In other words, almost no one likes to attend team meetings. But as managers, you understand what your staff might not– that these meetings are important, inevitable, and have to be productive.

team activitySo the question becomes: how do you get your staff to buy in and make the most out of the meetings they attend? The answer to this question is, of course, pretty complicated. But making your meetings more productive is a great place to start. That might seem like an oversimplification but think about it a minute.

Obviously, you need useful, productive meetings, but it’s unrealistic to think your staff will make this happen on their own. If you structure and run your departmental meetings in a way that gets actual results, your staff will buy in of their own accord. Apply your own version of these four tips and you’ll start to see both enthusiasm and results.

1. Change The Environment to Energize the Meeting

If you conjure up the image of a typical work meeting, you’re likely to see a bunch of sleepy faces drooped over a conference table. Well, if that set-up hasn’t worked yet, it probably never will, right? So why not open things up a little bit and let people feel free to move around?

First, get rid of the table. Then, set up the chairs in a circle to let people see one another easily and encourage open communication. The circle will also send a message of equality and prevent anyone from hiding. People think better when they don’t feel chained down, so even the possibility of movement will make everyone feel more at ease.

2. Keep Meetings as Short as Possible

Survey any cross section of your team and you’ll discover that what they dislike most about meetings is how long they take. That’s why it’s best to keep your meetings short and concise– no more than 15-20 minutes. As you’ve already learned from experience, any longer and people start fading.

There’s an adage known as Parkinson’s Law that says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, your departmental meetings will be just as productive at 15 minutes as they are at two hours. You can check out the science behind short meetings right here, but the bottom line is very simple: shorter meetings are just as productive as longer ones. They’re also, well, shorter.

3. Check Your Electronic Devices at The Door of the Team Activity

Since you’re going to shorten your meetings, you’ll need everyone’s full attention, right? That’s why many companies do not allow team members to bring electronic devices with them into project meetings. This includes phones, tablets, and laptops.

Department meetings should be spaces of creativity and collaboration, not a roomful of people typing notes or glancing at their phone. Have everyone leave their beloved tech toys outside and you’ll maximize production quickly.

4. Take a Silence Break

Yes, you read that right. New wisdom insists that a short break of silence in the middle of your meeting is a great way to encourage deep thinking and the generation of new ideas. It might seem counterintuitive, but meetings aren’t really designed for talking. They’re also not intended as some sort of team activity where everyone’s afraid to be quiet for a moment.

No, departmental meetings are designed to come up with novel ideas and more efficient methods. Of course, some amount of conversation is necessary to fulfill these goals, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what silence can do.