best atmosphere for productive meetings. In reality, people often do
not tell the truth about what they really believe. They don’t speak
their minds. Sometimes the problem is a leader who doesn’t solicit
participation. Sometimes a dominant personality intimidates the
rest of the group. But most of the time the problem is a simple lack
of trust. People don’t feel secure enough to say what they really think.
There is plenty of conversation, but not much candor. Until a cohesive
trust-filled team can be developed, two alternatives can be
• Give equal floor time to each team member and allow him or
her to express what he or she thinks. Limiting time to aggres-
sive team members will result in other team members feeling
• Vote on decisions anonymously. An
exercise such as this may aid in sparking discussions of the pros
and cons of proposed initiatives.
Lack of clarity around accountability is more often than not
why it seems nothing happens once the meeting ends. People don’t
convert decisions into action. The problem isn’t that people are lazy
or irresponsible. It’s that people leave meetings with different views
of what happened and what’s supposed to happen next. With technology today, staff can actually leave the meeting with written real-time
minutes. The comments, ideas, proposals, decisions, and who is doing
what, by when, could be projected for the entire group to see and
approve before being printed while the team is still gathered. This
will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Practice makes perfect. Meetings are like any other part of
business life: you get better only if you commit to it—and aim high.
Charles Schwab Corporation, the financial-services company based
in San Francisco, has made that commitment. In virtually every
meeting at Schwab, someone serves as an “observer” and creates
what the company calls a Plus/Delta list. The list records what went
right and what went wrong, and gets included in the minutes. Over
time, both for specific meeting groups and for the company as a
whole, these lists create an agenda for change.
When meetings run effectively, they will ignite and unite the team.
The energy becomes not only collaborative but also inspirational.
Knowing where you are going and how you will get there is only part
of the reason for having meetings. Nurturing the office culture is key
as well. Recognizing that meetings are an opportunity to recalibrate
the team about why they are here will keep them inspired. Like a
healthy diet, efficient meetings fuel a well-functioning team. RDH
1. Matson E. The seven sins of deadly meetings. Fast Company website.
April 30, 1996.
2. Metz T. 8 meeting purposes – what tasks are you asking a group to complete? Fast Weekly Facilitation Blog. https://mgrush.com/blog/2013/02/14/
meeting-purposes/. Published February 13, 2014.
3. Axtell P. How to get your team to follow through after a meeting. Harvard
Business Review website. https://hbr.org/2017/03/how-to-get-your-team-to-
follow-through-after-a-meeting. Published March 30, 2017.