The facilitator should gracefully interrupt some of the more talkative team members while asking questions of the quieter ones. Granting everyone a voice creates good team morale and insures a greater buy-in by those who struggle with follow-through.

Culture is the foundation upon which we do everything in our businesses. Whether it’s designing a new corporate logo, picking shirt colors, or placing potted plants throughout the office – we are creating culture. A key component to any business is finding which type of culture is needed to make you successful, and then sticking to it. When quality culture exists in your business, employees feel part of a team, productivity is greater, and your company stands out above the competition.

In fact, how you conduct meetings has a huge impact on the corporate culture you’re trying — or in some case, discouraging) to create.

At our Philadelphia-based headquarters we have worked to establish a healthy meeting culture. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, it has been an on-going process and a focal point of our day-to-day here at Sauers HQ.

We have all been a part of meetings that, for various reasons, start with the best of intentions but ultimately devolve and end up destroying any morale gained or progress made among team members. In the end, they’re a callosal waste of time.

Here are some things to consider when planning meetings:

Avoid meetings without agendas

Task someone with the responsibility of creating an agenda, or outline, for the meeting. Traditionally, he or she who calls the meeting supplies the itinerary. Create a structure for the team’s time together. Even if it’s just a skeleton outline of the topics under discussion, actions taken, and tasks accomplished. Don’t overload your meeting with a laundry list of things to get through, but don’t make it so vague (for example, calling a meeting to talk about “productivity”) that coworkers can’t prepare for it.

Schedule meetings appropriately

Meetings that go on and on forever drain the people on your team. If you have a lot of agenda items to get through, then consider breaking it up into smaller more specific gatherings. Provide start and end times for your meeting and stick to them. People will plan their days around meetings, so even if you weren’t able to accomplish what you wanted by the end of the meeting time, resist the temptation of continuing the meeting on for “just a little while longer.” Stay true to your scheduled times and set up another meeting for a future date if more time is needed. The more you conclude meetings when you say you’ll end them, the more people won’t complain about meetings.

Sauers-Boyd

Facilitate, facilitate, facilitate

One or two people doing most of the talking will derail the most well-planned meeting. Likewise, meetings are incomplete if one or two people remain silent the whole time. It is important that the person leading facilitates the meeting’s agenda. This includes assigning time limits to topics, which will ultimately maintain the meeting’s momentum and push agenda items along. Additionally, the facilitator should gracefully interrupt some of the more talkative team members while asking questions of the quieter ones. Granting everyone a voice creates good team morale and insures a greater buy-in by those who struggle with follow-through.

Measure everything

It’s not unusual for people to setup meetings as a reactionary measure. In other words, “We need to have a meeting to talk about what just happened.” The problem is whenever there is a meeting scheduled for a reactionary reason, team members will be apprehensive about getting together. In time, they will assume the worst. If you incorporate some type of dashboard discussion, or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) into every meeting then you will start to breed prevention and preparedness into your meeting culture. Ideally, every meeting should include a reaction to a problem, as well as preparing for the future. This ensures every meeting isn’t focused solely on course correcting current issues.

Celebrate people and their accomplishments

Finally, everyone loves to be recognized and celebrated, and meetings are a great way to accomplish this with your team. Take time in each of your meeting to praise your team members for different things they have accomplished. Think outside the box. Maybe their accomplishments have taken place outside of work. There’s no better way to grow great culture than to let your team members know how much you value their lives both in and outside of the workplace.

Stephanie Sauers is the President of Sauers Inc. based in Philadelphia, Pa.