239: Better Meetings

12 Minutes Read

Do you spend too many hours each week in meetings that could have been an email instead? 

Is work not getting done to a level that makes you proud of your people and your business?

This week's podcast will help you and your team get more done and at a higher level than before.  You will discover:

  • The hidden reasons work doesn't get done the way you expect it to, and how to bring those dynamics to the surface so you can deal with them
  • How to use vision and accountability to help people rise to their best and ensure your meetings move your team forward
  • A simple thought experiment to determine whether to have a meeting or not

To download the free Superabound Meeting Template, click here.


Episode Transcript

Steve Haase  0:02  
Welcome to the Superabound podcast with master coaches Erin Aquin and Steve Haase. Were business owners like you learn tools that help you clarify vision, clear up static and overcome challenges. You are listening to episode number 239: Better Meetings. Welcome to the podcast, we're going to talk about something that is so important yet is so often overlooked: meetings. How you do them, how you get the most from them, how you use them to help your people rise to their most productive. I'm here with Erin Aquin. Welcome Erin. What do you think about meetings?

Erin Aquin  0:38  
Honestly, I think meetings are totally essential, and that most leaders do them in a way that are not all that useful. You know, I know this might be true for you, as well, Steve, but I have so many clients who are in leadership roles, or who have their own business, and they spend too many hours in the week on meetings that could have been handled with an email, or talking about things that they need to book another meeting for. So I coach on this a lot. And what I hope to offer everyone listening today is a couple of really helpful things. First, understanding that while some meetings are totally necessary, and can be done well, you have to actually make sure you're structuring them throughout your company in a way that actually aligns with the culture you want to create. If you have endless meetings, or recurring meetings, and you feel like people are showing up or the person who's leading the meeting does not actually know what the point is, then you're wasting a resource rather than taking strong actions towards your lanterns as a team. So we're going to help you so that you don't spend all day talking in meetings, instead of actually getting out there and doing what you and your team are supposed to be doing.

Steve Haase  2:08  
Absolutely. And on the flip side, if you think, hey, my people know exactly what they need to do, I'm just gonna let them go do their job, we're a no meeting company. And then you wonder why the work isn't up to the level that you want, or why it's late, or why your company doesn't run the way you want it to. It's because you're not using that tool that you have the way that you can, as a leader, one of your most effective tools is the meeting. And we're going to help you get the most from it.

Erin Aquin  2:39  
So if you feel like your meetings just don't have a lot of life, or they seem to go on and on and you're not getting anything done. We also have created something just for you. It's it's a template or a meeting agenda that you can use, whether you are a team of two, or a team of 20. And this will really help you make sure that everybody is leaving that meeting that conversation feeling very clear on what they're supposed to be doing, that any elephants in the room are being addressed and dealt with right then and there rather than gossip, kind of running behind the scenes. And that you're actually giving some momentum to the things that you are trying to create, whether it's this week, this quarter, or this year. So we encourage you to head over and download our Superabound Meeting Template over at besuperabound.com/meeting. You'll also

Steve Haase  3:37  
find a walkthrough of how to use it so that you get the most from your meetings along with the guide itself. So how do we make meetings better, we're going to use the Superabound Progress Formula as the foundation, not just for doing better meetings, but also for how to think about them. The progress formula is a tool we created to help our clients make progress in any area of their life that matters to them in the simplest possible way. It states that if your vision is greater than your static times your challenges, then you make progress. So that means there are three areas that you can look at. If you want to move forward with anything. You can practice your vision, get stronger with, why it matters, what you want the world to look like in the future. You can take your challenges and break them down. You can say what's the next thing that I need to achieve here. And you can pay attention to those voices inside you the static that is kind of setting you off course and saying Why is this here? What does this need for me? How can I befriend this part of myself? That seems to be at odds with my purpose right now. So if we use the progress formula on meetings, and we say, Why do meetings matter? Well, first of all, your vision is to have an impact. In the world, a certain kind of impact. And if that meeting serves that vision, then it's important, it's aligned. And if it doesn't serve that vision in some way, maybe you shouldn't be having it. Or if it's kind of a sidebar, handle it with an email or over coffee someday. So we start with the vision, then comes the challenges. What is it that the meeting is there to address? What are the tasks that need to be done, that maybe don't have clarity, or that people haven't been assigned to yet there is space between you and where you want to go. Those are tasks and decisions. And sometimes the purpose of a meeting can be to make a decision. That's a great use for a meeting. Which brings us to the point about static, what static exists in your organization, within you, between your people, sometimes meetings are a great place to air that out. Even and sometimes, especially if it's a one on one, just you and a direct report or one of your colleagues, what are the thoughts and feelings that are getting in someone's way of them doing their best work? A lot of leaders shy away from this, they see this as the soft stuff or you know, the squishy parts of business. But that soft stuff can actually derail any hard plans you have. Because if someone isn't into it, or if they're intimidated by it, if they have unaired grievances, they won't bring their best self to that task.

Erin Aquin  6:30  
I mean, you just said it right there, there's only really three reasons to ever have a meeting, to clarify your vision and make sure everybody's on the same page to deal with static, the things, the noise that's getting in someone's head, or maybe the collective consciousness of your whole team. Often a whole team will have a really unhelpful beliefs and they kind of create some kind of echo chamber of complaining or thinking that it's impossible. So it's, it's really helpful to have meetings where you break that down, and you look at it. And then the final one that that you mentioned, Steve, is to deal with challenges, to make important decisions to really put everything that needs to be done to get you to your next lantern, your company or your team to the next lantern. So that you really understand what those steps are, and you have a way to get there. I think where a lot of companies go wrong, is they don't start with the point of the meeting when they set a meeting. So one exercise I often have clients do if they feel like they are constantly being pulled into meeting after meeting, if they have people on their team, who are always putting time on their calendar is I actually have them develop a protocol, where some of them even now have forms that anybody who wants a meeting with them has to fill out before they get time on the calendar. So it can be things like, what is the agenda for this meeting? What is the thing we are trying to accomplish in this 30 minute time slot? What is the decision that needs to be made that you need me in on? Or what static? Are we dealing with? Is someone on my team having an issue and they need time on my calendar to help sort out the unhelpful thoughts that may be slowing them down or stopping them completely? If someone can't articulate the answer to why we are having this meeting, they should not be taking up time on your calendar. So I know there are companies out there that love to have meetings where they just hang out. But in my mind, I think like call that a Hangout call that social time do not utilize the resource and the brainpower of your people and they're time to like, ask a question like, What did your fifth grade teacher tell you? That was the best advice you ever got? Like, those things are fine for for icebreakers. But every meeting in your company, to have it be a good meeting should have a point. And everyone should be aware of that point before they show up. If you don't know what the point of a meeting is, then how are you supposed to know who's who should be there? How do you know? Like, is everyone in the company there to meet? Is it necessary? You know, if you're going to change software service providers, is that something you need every single person on your team to be in on? Maybe you do? Maybe you don't. So I think a really great place to start when you are trying to hold better meetings is to make sure that there's always a very specific outcome that you are trying to create with that block of time.

Steve Haase  9:53  
So how do you have better meetings specifically? I know a lot of leaders who wring their hands over are getting everybody on the same page. The funny thing about being a leader is many people find themselves in that position simply from having been great at their previous job. But now they have a new job. If this is you, you can relate, you know, you were excellent at whatever it was, maybe you started a company, maybe you got promoted. And now your job is managing people. And so you might be thinking that you're not good at the people stuff. And that maybe you can't tell people how to do things or convened a meeting and a great way. But the fact is, in this role, in your job of managing people, meetings are one of the tools that you have for having an impact at scale. It's how you set your vision into other people's hearts and minds. And the word meeting itself has a certain feel in the corporate environment, it's very sterile, even soul sucking. But if you think about what it means, it means for two or more people to come together in a shared understanding, it means to be together, there's a certain significance to the fact that you're choosing to spend your time with these other people. So as a leader, even if you've never operated at the level you're currently at before, I invite you to think a few layers deeper about this word. And really be present with your own mandate, your own reason for being bringing those people together. And the fact that you are the one who is bringing them together, it's your company, it's your team, you're the one who wants to instill an idea, and steal a vision in people's minds, and have them return that to you in the form of their best work. So the first static to clear up around having better meetings is your own static, around what meetings can and should be, if you think I don't know how to run a meeting, I'm new to this team. I'm the youngest one here, I'm the oldest one here, whatever those thoughts are that have you feeling less than in your role as convener of the meeting, write those on a piece of paper, see them in black and white, that is the most powerful way to acknowledge them, and then be able to let them go, they might be factually true. But when you see them in black and white, you can release some of the emotional charge that might have you holding back from creating a really special space for people to come together. I mean, if you think about what it is that people want in their life, it's things like being seen, being connected, feeling important. You can do all of those things in a meeting of all places. So let yourself shift how you even feel about that word. And it will put you in a different position as the person who is responsible for making those meetings happen.

Erin Aquin  12:53  
And if this all sounds beautiful, and yet, you still kind of find yourself having a hard time, you know, setting a meeting agenda, so you really know who to have there, I'll just give you a really simple little trick you can play with your brain. Remember that when you hold a meeting, you are also paying your people to stop whatever they're doing in their work, and be at the meeting. So if you wouldn't pay everyone in the room $1,000 Extra that week, on their paycheck to be in the meeting. They might not need to be in the meeting. I mean, really, if you look around, and you have just slapped recurring meetings on your calendar, and you never think about them, and you don't prep for them, or you don't have someone who's in charge of leading the meeting, if suddenly you committed to giving everyone $1,000 to show up for these things, I bet you would take it more seriously. I know you would. So that is just like one very simple experiment you can play with in your mind. And energetically, there's something else that I think is really helpful. Now, if you've been around here, you know that we're not huge fans of like formulaic ways of running a business. But I personally think there is something to be said, for having a standard meeting structure that, while unique to your company, is something that everyone in your company follows. The best example I have of this is actually I used to teach yoga, and I would have a different playlist every week the postures would be different. But I was able to always create a really safe container for my students to show up, expand their practice to play with what maybe they thought wasn't possible for them and get really creative in that environment. Because I followed a similar format each week. Everything about the class could change. But every single week if you came to my class, you knew this in this certain style of yoga that I taught that we would open with some kind of an attention setting for you in a meeting that might be talking about your vision, as Steve mentioned. And then we would do the standing up part of practice really vigorous, and then a more quiet, deep, relaxing half of a practice. And we finish the same every time with a 10 minute Shavasana. Now, of course, you're probably not going to have your, your, your whole team lay down on the floor at the end of a meeting. I don't know what you do, maybe your yoga teacher, you could do it. But the point is that, if we're trying to get big things to happen, if we're going to be talking about big lanterns, if we're going to be challenging people in our company to do things they've never done before, to really expand their own mindset, then having a standardized sort of meeting formula that really works for you and is an expression of your company vision and values is a way that you can make it safe so that everybody knows what to expect in the meeting. And we've put this all together for you over at besuperabound.com/meeting, where we'll give you a walkthrough of an agenda that you can use and adapt in a way that feels aligned for you and your company. And in that particular agenda, you will get our way of dealing with static, which is all the mental clutter and internal stories that people tell that really do slow them down in a major way. And how you break down challenges towards your next goal or lantern. I really think that having a format, that grounds the whole meeting is expected and is continuous throughout your company as a system or process is very, very helpful. It has been for us it has been for our clients, and we hope it will be for you too.

Steve Haase  17:03  
And the most important part for any meetings that you are a part of, or any that are happening at your company is that the commitments made within the meetings are captured, followed up on and become part of the work that actually happens at your business. So many meetings occur where stuff is talked about, and then everyone goes on their separate way. It's as though the meeting never happened. Business, as usual, just continues for a meeting to be effective. And for it to be a better meeting. You need to know, what are the next steps? What is everyone committing to? And like Erin said, why do these things matter to our vision as a company. So everybody needs to know what's next. And a meeting means that something will change at your company. So perhaps you have your weekly meeting on a Monday, at the end, everyone is committed to the lantern that they are going to light that week, their desired result. And on Friday, you have a follow up saying How did everybody do? How are our lanterns let's see the light that's been lit. And if there are things that have gotten in the way, that will be the conversation for Monday. But this makes it so that your weekly process is iterative and your business is able to grow and get smarter and get better as a result of your meetings. If what you heard today resonates with you and you want to put it in practice in your business, we'd love for you to have that meeting template that we created. It's at besuperabound.com/meeting. We have a walkthrough there for you. And we can't wait to hear what amazingness you create in your business. Once you start having more effective, more empowering meetings,

Erin Aquin  18:51  
and the download is free. Because we want you to be free. This is something that will save you could save you hundreds of hours that would otherwise be spent in meetings that go nowhere. And things that could have been an email. So go grab that meeting template, check out the walkthrough where we take you through everything step by step, and then adapt it in ways that make it even more powerful for you and your company. And we will talk to you again next week. Take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai