Meetings are an essential part of any workplace, whether in-person or virtual. However, not all meetings are created equal. Some are highly productive, while others can feel like a waste of time. The difference between the two often comes down to meeting norms. In this article, we’ll explore why meeting norms matter, how to establish them, and how to ensure they’re being followed.
Why Meeting Norms Matter
One of the main reasons meeting norms matter is that they establish expectations for behavior during meetings. By setting ground rules, such as arriving on time, actively participating, and avoiding distractions, everyone knows what’s expected of them. This can lead to more productive discussions and fewer misunderstandings.
Meeting norms can also encourage engagement from all attendees. When everyone has an equal opportunity to speak, share their ideas, and ask questions, it creates a more inclusive environment. This can lead to more diverse perspectives being shared and better decision-making.
Finally, meeting norms can reduce frustration among attendees. When meetings are disorganized, off-topic, or poorly run, it can be frustrating for everyone involved. By establishing norms and sticking to them, meetings can become more efficient and effective.
Establishing Meeting Norms
Start with a Baseline
When establishing meeting norms, it’s important to start with a baseline. This means assessing the current state of meetings and identifying any areas that need improvement. This could involve asking for feedback from attendees or reviewing past meeting notes to identify recurring issues.
Identify Key Norms
Once you have a baseline, it’s time to identify the key meeting norms that will be established. These should be specific, actionable behaviors that attendees can easily understand and follow. Some examples might include arriving on time, actively participating, and staying on-topic.
Communicate Norms Clearly
Once the key norms have been identified, they should be communicated clearly to all attendees. This could involve sending out an email or memo, discussing them in a team meeting, or posting them in a shared document. The important thing is to make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them.
Enforce Norms Consistently
Finally, meeting norms need to be enforced consistently. This means that if someone violates a norm, there should be consequences. This could involve addressing the behavior in the moment, following up with the individual afterward, or adjusting the meeting format to prevent the behavior from recurring.
Ensuring Meeting Norms are Being Followed
Once meeting norms have been established, it’s important to monitor progress to ensure they’re being followed. This could involve assigning a meeting facilitator to keep track of time and ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak, or reviewing meeting notes to ensure they stay on-topic.
If someone is not following meeting norms, it’s important to provide feedback. This could involve addressing the behavior in the moment, following up with the individual afterward, or providing coaching or training to help them improve.
Adjust Norms as Needed
Finally, meeting norms should be adjusted as needed. If a norm isn’t working, it’s important to address it and find a better solution. This could involve modifying the norm itself, adjusting the meeting format, or providing additional training or resources to attendees.
Meeting norms are a critical component of productive and effective meetings. By establishing expectations, encouraging engagement, and reducing frustration, meeting norms can help ensure that meetings are a valuable use of everyone’s time. To establish meeting norms, start with a baseline, identify key norms, communicate them clearly, and enforce them consistently. To ensure meeting norms are being followed, monitor progress, provide feedback, and adjust norms as needed.
By following these steps, you can establish a culture of accountability and respect in your workplace meetings. This can lead to more engaged employees, better decision-making, and ultimately, a more successful business.
1. What are some common meeting norms?
Common meeting norms might include arriving on time, actively participating, avoiding distractions, staying on-topic, and respecting other attendees.
2. What should I do if someone violates a meeting norm?
If someone violates a meeting norm, it’s important to address it in the moment or follow up with them afterward. This could involve providing feedback or coaching to help them improve.
3. How can I encourage engagement during meetings?
To encourage engagement during meetings, make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to speak and share their ideas. This could involve using tools like round-robin discussions or brainstorming sessions.
4. What should I do if a meeting norm isn’t working?
If a meeting norm isn’t working, it’s important to address it and find a better solution. This could involve modifying the norm itself, adjusting the meeting format, or providing additional training or resources to attendees.
5. How can I ensure meeting norms are being followed in a virtual meeting?
To ensure meeting norms are being followed in a virtual meeting, use tools like video conferencing software to facilitate face-to-face communication. Additionally, assign a meeting facilitator to keep track of time and ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak.