I’ve endured my share of bad meetings, and since you are reading this, I bet you have too.
Why do I hate them? Let me name the ways: boring reports, off the subject discussions, failure to get anything done, no purpose except that we regularly meet, and no real connection with other attendees.
In other words, I hate meetings that waste my time. I need to see that we made headway on the issues and decisions, and enjoyed each other in the process. If not, please God, let me be sick and stay home!
I have certainly led more than my share of meetings. How do I work to avoid leaving my team, committee, or group with that sour feeling in the pit of their stomachs because they must attend?
I have an agenda. You may hate that word because it conjures up visions of Robert’s Rules of Order, but rules have nothing to do with a good agenda. I don’t use any rules of order.
Can a meeting be fruitful without an agenda? Can’t we simply be organic? Rarely does an organic meeting reach its goals. It may sound good to move as the Spirit blows, but in reality it ends up wasting time and energy. The Spirit is powerful enough to move within a agenda.
I can’t say that I like the chore of coming up with a meeting agenda. How I wish that I could simply pray and actually accomplish what is needed! I would so much prefer it to using listening, discussion, and people skills to move a team through agenda items.
But in a world of people marred by forgetfulness, self-centeredness, and lack of focus, I know of no other way to be sure that we get the job done.
So often a team uses up its allotted meeting time before getting to the most important items because it has a one-size-fits-all meeting approach. The leader uses the same agenda over and over in the same order.
Instead, I begin with the most important item, generally asking each person to share a short, specific prayer request for her responsibilities to the team and/or of a personal nature. We then pray the requests and for God’s wisdom and guidance. Next, we follow the agenda items prioritized from highest to lowest. If we don’t make it to the end, we table unimportant issues.
Not every team member needs to report at every meeting, but only as necessary. (I ask them to let me know in advance the specifics of what we need to discuss.) Instead, I request written reports to distribute and highlight orally if needed or to take home and read when convenient. The agenda is reserved for issues that need discussion or decision from this particular group. Each participant (committee or team members) makes decisions when possible, and I work with them when needed.
The group wastes time spending 20 minutes picking out a favor for the retreat, even if it is the retreat committee. Let the person in charge take the budget and find what she likes! (And yes, I attended that meeting—just kill me before I ever have to do that again!)
What do you hate about meetings? Let us know how BOW can help you avoid the problems.