Ask the Hiring Boss is our ongoing advice series dedicated to all questions HR. Today, we’re covering running effective meetings. Each month, our team of hiring and staffing experts, including Star Staffing CEO Nicole Serres, team up to answer the questions we all have but don’t know who to ask. Welcome! Don’t forget to subscribe to our Ask a Hiring Boss newsletter or submit your own questions — you can do that on our main Ask the Hiring Boss page.
Dear Hiring Boss,
How the heck do I run effective meetings? I was recently promoted at work, and I’m now supervising a team of six, plus meeting with leadership two or three times a week. Everyone agrees: We have too many meetings on the book, and they take up wayyyy too much time. I’ve been tasked with reorganizing our meeting schedule and formats. Any tips on running more effective meetings for my team?
-First Time Meeting Manager
First off: Congratulations on your promotion! Stepping into a leadership role is huge — especially when you’re growing within the same company. It gives you so much more insight into how things are currently going, so you’re not tasked with revising your team’s meeting structure without any background. It sounds like you’re already doing my first piece of advice, which is: Talk to members of your team about what’s working, what’s not working, and what they’d like to change. Beyond that, here are a few tips:
Set agendas and put them in print. Create a template for meeting agendas and fill them out before each meeting. You don’t need to do this all on your own. Maybe assign an “owner” for each meeting who is responsible for filling in an agenda ahead of time. Attach this agenda to the meeting invite, so everyone has access to it. If it helps, you can assign someone to take notes during the meeting, too.
Keep meetings to 40 minutes or less, and give everyone at least five minutes between meetings. It’s incredibly rare to need an hour for a meeting, and there’s a lot of research on how people actually do more effective work in shorter meetings. So in general, cut your meetings down. I recommend sticking to 20-30 minute meetings for check-ins, 40 minutes for kick-off meetings. Finally, make sure everyone has at least 5-10 minutes between meetings. You can do this by agreeing to only start meetings on the hour — if every meeting runs no longer than 40 minutes, you’ll wind up with at least 20 minutes between sessions, sometimes longer. This gives people time to regroup!
Review the invite list. Check in with your team, and find out if everyone in your current meetings REALLY needs to be there. Make meetings optional for anyone who isn’t essential — you can always let them know when they need to attend.
Don’t book meetings on Fridays. Fridays are a great day for letting people spend some time focusing on their projects and tasks uninterrupted. This holds space for several solid hours of deep work.
Best of luck!
We’ll be back soon with our next installment. Don’t forget to submit your own question, or read our other previous answers in our Ask the Hiring Boss series!
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