5 Key Principles for Leading Effective Meetings in the Workplace

If you observe carefully, you’ll notice that many company meetings are problem-oriented – whenever there’s a problem, a meeting is called. This leads to a high number of internal meetings and a constant stream of problems.

The methodology of conducting meetings determines two critical aspects of a company: efficiency and quality. Work efficiency and quality are determined by the meeting methodology, so don’t underestimate the importance of this.

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So, how should meetings be conducted? There are five principles that are particularly important.

01 – Discuss Action Plans, Not Problems

Meetings must have a clear and well-defined topic, and all materials related to that topic must be prepared in advance. Meetings should not be held without adequate preparation – this is a clear requirement.

For example, in a monthly business analysis meeting, the main focus is on examining whether the action plans for the goals are actually being implemented. Each person making a presentation must talk about their action plan rather than discussing the difficulties they’ve encountered or the reasons for not achieving the goals.

The ultimate goal of a meeting is to solve specific problems and implement actions. Therefore, the core of a meeting should be discussions about action plans, not viewpoints or problems.

02 – The Responsible Person Should Also Lead

Who should be the moderator of a meeting?

In general, the person responsible for solving the problem should lead the meeting because only the responsible person will go to great lengths to ensure the meeting produces results.

If someone who is not responsible for the problem leads the meeting, they will follow the procedure but won’t be concerned about the meeting’s outcome. This is a significant error in methodology.

Many companies like to have the boss lead meetings, but I recommend that except for strategic meetings, the boss should not lead them. Strategic meetings are the boss’s responsibility, but other meetings are someone else’s responsibility and should be led by the person in charge.

03 – Daily Meetings Should Not Exceed 40 Minutes

The total time for a meeting should be clearly defined, including four components:

  1. Start and end times.
  2. Speaking time.
  3. Time for attendees to reach consensus.
  4. Time for confirming action plans.

Additionally, please note that, except for strategic, annual, or semi-annual meetings, daily meetings should not exceed 30 minutes and should ideally last no longer than 40 minutes.

Why should meetings be short? Two reasons:

The first reason is that people attending meetings typically hold important positions, and the longer the meeting, the higher the cost to the company.

The second reason is that the effectiveness of a problem-solving meeting is not determined by its length but rather by the level of preparation beforehand. The better the preparation, the more efficient the meeting will be. Therefore, daily meetings must be kept short.

04 – Avoid “Let’s Discuss This Next Time”

Management meetings must have conclusions. Leaving an issue unresolved with a promise to discuss it next time is not acceptable.

If an issue is not resolved and meetings frequently get off track, with participants insisting on their own viewpoints without reaching a consensus, effective decision-making may become impossible.

I suggest that after daily meetings, everyone should be clear about what they need to do next, and they should go ahead and do it.

05 – Three Sets of Meetings to Define Customer Value

When meeting with company management, I always advise them to conduct three sets of meetings within the company:

  1. The first set of meetings is with the core management team to answer the question: What is the customer value created by the company?
  2. The second set of meetings is with the product development team to ask how they perceive the customer value when conducting product research and development.
  3. The third set of meetings is with the sales team to discuss how they introduce the customer value created by the company in the market.

Why have these three sets of meetings?

The mistake we often make in our operations is that the transmission of customer value within the company is inconsistent.

I’ve conducted research in hundreds of companies and found the results to be surprising. There are significant discrepancies in the understanding of customer value within the company, let alone reaching the end consumer. When these discrepancies are significant, there’s a lot of waste internally, and operational problems arise.

Many companies lack meetings to discuss the value proposition for the entire company. They mainly hold management meetings rather than operational meetings.

I’ve participated in many monthly meetings where we discussed the market, customers, and value creation. However, what these meetings discuss the most are:

  • Did we achieve our budget goals?
  • What are the reasons for not achieving them?
  • What are our plans for the next month?
  • What could prevent us from achieving them next month?

These types of meetings don’t contribute to the operation of the company. The purpose of these three sets of meetings is to keep the entire company aligned in its understanding of customer value. If there’s no alignment in this understanding, the company will incur significant losses.

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