How coaching can help to make meetings more effective?

Posted On May 09, 2021 |

How many times did you feel as if you were just going from meeting to meeting without actually doing any real work?

How often did you realize you’ve been sitting in a meeting for centuries without any clear understanding of its purpose?
On the other side of the coin – have you ever go out from the meeting room energised and motivated to start working on some new project you’d just aligned on, while after some time you realize that other team members do not put their efforts as much as you do, and in the next meeting you talk about the same topics again, and again...

We invited our colleagues, coaches, who have experience in production environment, IT, HR and Engineering to share with us their experience and some tips.

Here are some common traits of effective meetings we can extract from our conversations:

  • 1) Clear purpose, structure and roles (known in advance by all participants not just organizers J)
  • 2) Very good preparation of facilitators (whether they use ppt or other tool as Miro/Mural for collecting ideas and brainstorming)
  • 3) Respecting scheduled time
  • 4) Respecting each other, opportunity for all participants to express opinions and contribute
  • 5) Well defined action plan with names of responsible persons
  • 6) Camera ON – if online

Dunja Milanković Poznić, L&D expert, coach and REBT therapist thinks that sending agenda with topics in advance, however basic, is often missed while important. Also, assigning a person who is helping facilitator taking minutes is also significant so that facilitator could be fully present and listens actively or have a more directive approach if he/she sees that meeting is going in some wrong direction.

“Maybe it sounds trivial, but first condition should be that meeting starts on time and that after first few minutes of informal conversation important discussion about announced topics begins”, says Dunja and adds that she thinks that key of successful meetings is constantly seeking feedback about usefulness of the meeting and what could be better so we ensure that we invested our time well, enough time for reflection and frequent updates about progress”.

“When it comes to successful meetings I've attended, the one thing in common was mutual respect and listening to what other people have to say. I believe that communication is the most important factor affecting the successfulness of a meeting, shares Marija Mihajlović, certificated Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and Coach.

Aleksandra Živković, HR consultant and coach emphasizes as well the importance of role of facilitator – to enable that all attendees participate equally and to know their tasks and responsibilities. “Sometimes it happens that the team is great and relations between members are harmonised but they often organize ineffective meetings (long hours, forgetting the agreed items…)”, reflects Aleksandra.
“I remember once there were so many meetings in calendar, people had to schedule time for lunch so they can have a break. Once we realised that, we draw the line” and organized a training and series of actions steps to improve this area. Several new guidelines were put in place:

  • Before scheduling the meeting it was a must to have defined the goal and agenda, not just the topic – this enabled us to recognize that some of them could easily become just emails and also clearly signalized what participants should prepare.
  • We introduced voluntary (“social work”) hours for all participants who come late. One form was posted in every meeting room to record that. This was fun and useful at the same time, because those at voluntary activities really happened, and on the other hand it was a gentle way for someone to see how his/her actions impacts other people and their time.
  • One more great practice we introduced was the bell on the tables in meeting rooms. When you realize deviation from the topic – you ring. People hesitated to use it at first, but when they saw effects it became regular part of meetings. Plus it was fun.

How coaching can help make meetings more effective?

Dunja emphasized how being skilled at some of ICF coaching competencies can be valuable:If we are talking about 1:1 meetings, using coaching skills could be really valuable

  • To be ready and open for any content your colleague is talking about (especially if those meetings are between manager and subordinate).
  • Secondly, to be really present in the meeting with our colleagues/peers because establishing the trust when talking about significant topics and challenges which we are facing”.

“Management teams could benefit from engaging external coach. Inviting coach to be present in meetings so he/she could understand culture and communication in organization could be great practice. In my experience one of benefits is that all participants speak “the same language”, together create definition of effective meeting and get aligned on the new rules, so in that way, they together establish new meeting culture”, shares Aleksandra.

Marija adds in the same theme as Aleksandra that some meetings were an utter disaster purely because of lack of listening and respect to other people's views and opinions. This was overcome by a coach who was there to guide the topic, facilitate communication between participants and help them discover new options to reach a common goal.

If you are intrigued to meet us in person and get a feeling for the practical side of our programs supporting the improvement of meeting subject  – feel free to schedule a discovery session with us.