The 15 minute meeting – Organizing or Attending

15 minute meetings should be the focus for action.  Here are three sections I like to focus on when making 15 minute meetings.

  1. Create an agenda to focus your thoughts and insure the topics both fit in 15 minutes but also cover all the points you need to address.  At best is might be one to three topics.  At worst you can always make more than one meeting to cover a complicated list
  2. Understand the goal you want to measure after the meeting.  If you can not come up with some way to measure or track the topics in your agenda, or you don’t plan to, then it may not be worth having the meeting.  Dedicated and productive employees want actions to complete.  Assignments to be clear and measurable.  Most people want rewards for completion and expect some consequence for incomplete work.    But not checking up on the work leaves the best employee to doubt they will be rewarded or caught in an error or late project
  3. Provide time for you to complete any deliverables you commit to in the meeting to empower the team.  Such as provide a template, research book, or some other tool that may be needed after you express the agenda

Now that your 15 minute meeting is done, I suggest a mandatory 15 minute followup meeting at the end of or next day.  In that 15 minute meeting, you have a second template agenda.

  1. Provide a recap from each participant in the original meeting time to restate and ask clarifying questions
  2. Provide further guidance or changes that may have come from employee feedback
  3. Insure that the delivery data is both reasonable and agreed upon.  If not a date driven deadline, then a list of objective goals that will be complete

It is my experience that meetings are setup with two subtle assumptions.

  1. Management will lay out this “stuff” to get done
  2. Management wants to allow the team to “feel” they have input

Employee’s always seem to have another set of assumptions.

  1. Any meeting takes my from my assigned and often backlog of work
  2. This meeting will give me more work, and they won’t see me as a team player if I don’t accept it quietly

The long meeting format makes this balance even more tenuous.  Management puts out it’s objective statement looking for feedback.  The subjects in the meeting are balancing other issues and not attending to the full opportunity.   Long meetings are often interactive and don’t close with significant changes to the original meeting intent.  Or, it can ramble on so long people can’t recall the exact intent.  In most cases, the audience is lost.

The solution is a short clearly staged and objective meeting.  It’s goal is to have one or few points to transact on.  It’s a mission.  There is no pretense to suggest it’s up for modification.  It’s a statement of work to be taken and managed buy the staff.  It’s a one way communication.

The follow-up meeting is to take in the comments about the proposal.  It’s 15 minutes to hear the feedback and decide on changes if any.  In short, the Manager/owner takes feedback as a consultant to the staff doing the work.  The only agreement in the end is if the assigned meeting is still a go, and if so should it be modified.  This is a one way communication in reply.

The last meeting is designed to validate completion, wins and loses, and suggestions to improves the process.  It’s a two way dialog.  Rewards or consequence are passed out.  Everyone is on the same page and being as efficient as possible.

Of course, meetings will go longer given complexity or dependency.  But not to set a framework is to insure long and sometimes very unproductive meetings.  Most of all, long complex meetings do not lend well to short reward or consequence support for team members.  This reduces moral and in the end productivity.  Most of all it reinforces to the staff that meetings are ineffectual, detract from current work, and are not followed-up on.

Try a 15 minute meeting.  I often do this training on the phone with other managers.  15 minutes for the 15 minute program.  It’s always amazing to have the follow-up call where the push back is a long agenda.  But After that interaction, I am always happy to have the 15 minute closing call that brings it all home.

Good luck, and feedback what you do or do not like so I can comment or amend this post.  Cheers – Stephen Pieraldi

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“Meeting does not mean managing”


Plus – and I love this – 15-minute meetings break my day into 40 intervals (for a 10-hour day). If I go with 1-hour meetings, I only have 10 intervals. I can work on 4 times as much stuff if I slice my day into 15-minute intervals”

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