Satisfaction with Meetings – (2of3) – Attaining Outcomes is Personal
I attended a long distance meeting yesterday that serves as a starting point
for how not to create a satisfying meeting experience. We started with
introductions, but no stated agenda or defined outcome. We then proceeded
to a discussion of the need for deliverables that had already been created…
and top it all off, the leader conducted the meeting in a slow deliberate pace
that had no apparent sensitivity to the outside demands bearing down
on each of the participants.
I bet that sounds like some of the meetings you attend. Not very satisfying
are they? In fact I find myself getting frustrated and looking for a way to
escape, take-over or multi-task on the side. I’m not very good at just being
patient. I would bet that each one of us tends to use one or more of those
four options to get through meetings on a daily basis.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Meetings don’t have to be as frustrating
as they so often are. They don’t have to be so seemingly disconnected from
the demands and stacks of deliverables just outside the door.
So here’s a 2nd action item you can invoke to immediately improve meeting
Focus on the outcome. Let me say it again, focus on the outcome.
Don’t start without stating the intended outcome. Don’t adopt a pace or
extend a conversation that isn’t aligned with the intended outcome and
the time left to achieve it. Focus on the outcome to guide you through
the entire meeting process.
But there’s one more key to consider when focusing on outcomes. The key
is that ultimately outcomes are personal. Meeting satisfaction is directly
influenced by whether or not members feel their outcomes are achieved.
Briggs, et al documented an important bit of research in this area:
“Results support the propositions that satisfaction with meeting process and
satisfaction with meeting outcome are both a function of an individual’s
perceived net goal attainment with respect to the meeting.”
In effect, we all come to meetings with some form of an agenda, or develop
one pretty quickly once we are there. Satisfaction with a meeting is directly
influenced by whether or not it’s getting to your outcomes and agenda.
Back to the suggestion for improving meeting satisfaction, because now
it looks better defined as “focus on the outcome for each person in
attendance” – perhaps best phrased in the question to each, “What do
you need to get out of this meeting?”
Meetings are inherently more satisfying when they are organized around
meeting the objectives of the participants. A focus on outcome is the
powerful measuring critera by which meeting purpose, pace, amount of time
spent on discussion, and a host of other decisions can be made. A focus
on achieving outcomes in meetings is the starting point, middle checkpoint,
and the close you want to use to help improve satisfaction with meetings.