Better Meetings

Improving Meeting Culture in the Workplace

Meetings are a necessary part of working in any organization. But just because meetings are unavoidable doesn’t mean they have to be painful. In fact, meetings provide a valuable opportunity for collaboration, ideation, and team bonding. However, in order to reap these benefits, organizations must cultivate a healthy meeting culture.

What exactly is meeting culture? It’s the unwritten rules, norms, and expectations that shape how meetings are conducted in an organization. An unhealthy meeting culture leads to disengaged employees, wasted time, and missed opportunities. But a thoughtful, intentional approach to meetings can transform them into engines of productivity, innovation, and alignment.

In this post, we’ll explore what contributes to a positive meeting culture and provide actionable strategies to help your organization get there. Read on to learn how small shifts in mindset and behavior can completely change the role meetings play in your workplace.

What Makes a Good Meeting Culture?

Before diving into tactics for improvement, let's first establish what a healthy meeting culture looks like. Some hallmarks include:

1. Clear purpose and objectives

Every meeting has a reason for taking place. The purpose is communicated in the invite so attendees can prepare. At the start of the meeting, the host reminds everyone of the intended objectives and desired outcomes.

2. Light agenda

The agenda is tightly focused on critical issues and strategic priorities. Fluff and filler topics don't make the cut. The meeting aims to arrive at key decisions to move projects and initiatives forward.

3. Timeboxing

Meetings start and end on time. The host allocates a set amount of time for each agenda item to keep things focused and on track.

4. Active participation

Every voice is heard. The host encourages broad participation by calling on quieter team members. No one dominates the conversation.

5. Psychological safety

People feel comfortable speaking up and challenging ideas without fear of embarrassment or retribution. Healthy debate and disagreement are expected.

6. Pre-work and preparation

Relevant information is distributed ahead of time for review. Attendees come ready to actively engage rather than just absorb.

7. Accountability and follow-through

Next steps and action items are clearly recorded and assigned to owners. There is a system for following up on deliverables after the meeting.

8. Continuous improvement

After-action reviews allow teams to identify what went well and opportunities for improvement. Feedback is solicited and integrated.

How to Build a Better Meeting Culture

Transitioning to a healthy meeting culture takes work. The following strategies create an environment where meetings can thrive:

Set expectations upfront

Establish organization-wide norms around meetings to provide clarity and alignment. Some ground rules might include:

  • Stating the purpose and objectives in the invite
  • Requiring pre-reads for recurring meetings
  • Starting and ending meetings on time
  • Allowing flexibility for missing non-critical meetings when priorities shift

Codify these expectations in a shared protocol document. Review it periodically to address any issues.

Train facilitators

Effective facilitation is critical for productive meetings. Invest in growing this capability across your organization. Offer resources like frameworks, cheat sheets, and workshops. Bring in professional facilitators to mentor team leads and managers.

Empower participants

Make it clear that attendees share responsibility for having effective meetings. Encourage them to clarify the purpose, keep discussions on track, manage airtime, and propose improvements.

Role model desired behaviors

Leadership sets the tone for meeting culture. When senior executives consistently embody the behaviors they want to see, it gives others permission to adopt them.

Provide tools and technology

Simple tools can streamline meetings and improve participation. Provide templates for agendas and pre-reads. Tap into digital whiteboards and smart sheets. Supply webcams and mics so remote team members can engage.

Gather feedback and act on it

Solicit input before and after meetings to find pain points and bright spots. Review feedback as a team and implement changes. Even small adjustments can add up to a better experience.

Celebrate wins

When you see progress, call it out. Recognize teams that nail the agenda, facilitation, participation and follow through. Post-mortems can highlight lessons learned to build on.

Make continuous tweaks

Don’t settle for one-and-done changes. Keep identifying opportunities to shape behaviors, process, tools, and communication. Meeting culture develops over time through conscious iteration.

Benefits of AI Meeting Assistants

Technology like AI-powered meeting assistants can also elevate meeting culture. Solutions like Supernormal capture notes, generate action items, and distribute post-meeting summaries. This removes the administrative burden from meeting participants. It also reinforces purpose, accountability, and follow-through.

Key benefits of AI meeting assistants include:

  • Increased focus - Participants can be fully present without worrying about taking notes. The assistant captures meeting details.
  • Improved documentation - AI generates organized, searchable notes automatically. Anyone who misses the meeting can catch up.
  • Stronger alignment - Post-meeting summaries reinforce decisions and next steps. Everyone leaves on the same page.
  • Greater accountability - AI track action items and sends reminders about deadlines. Nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Time savings - No more wasted hours manually transcribing meetings. AI does the heavy lifting.

With intentionality and commitment, organizations can transform their meeting culture into a source of energy, creativity, and alignment. It starts by setting clear expectations around meeting practices and facilitation. Empower individual contributors to play an active role. Equip them with the tools and technology to collaborate effectively.

When meetings are well-run, inclusive, and purpose-driven, they become a lever for engagement, innovation, and results. By implementing the strategies discussed here, you can level up your meeting culture and unlock greater productivity across your organization.

The time and attention of your team is precious. Meetings should never waste it. With the right foundation, your organization can make every minute count towards what matters most—your mission and your people.

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