Three Little Words - The Secret to Making Meetings Work
You've wanted to know the secret to meeting management success?
Look no further... Here is YOUR answer to getting things DONE at alllll those meetings we attend.
All it takes is three little words. Here are the "three little words" that will change your meeting life forever. Who knows, they may even bolster your career!
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. This is one of those times. Read on... We all think we spend toooooo much time in meetings. Maybe that's true. But maybe it's because they are unproductive... or confusing... or rambling... or (fill in your favorite blank)... Our negative feelings may be because of the ineffectiveness of the meetings, rather than the fact that there IS a meeting.
Try to remember the last meeting that you attended that you felt was a truly productive meeting... While this exercise could be taxing on your memory, try to think of the elements that made it a "good" meeting.
It's likely that the usual elements of starting on time, having an agenda, and having "right" people participate were all there. But it had to also include initiating clear and definable actions, didn't it? That's where the "three little words" come in. Who's gonna do what by when?
A successful meeting leader will always wrap up every agenda item by making sure that everyone in attendance knows... Who's gonna do what by when?
That meeting leader will pause before moving on to the next subject, to make sure the who's what's and when's are assigned. He or she may direct the person taking notes to make sure those three pieces of information are recorded before proceeding.
What if the leader isn't doing such a good job of remembering the "three little words?" Easy. Someone else in the group can drive the meeting forward by asking the "three little words" at the end of each subject or agenda item. It's great if that someone is the meeting leader, but it doesn't have to be. Who's gonna do what by when?
It sounds so simple. And it is. Someone (hopefully you) just needs to remember to do it! That's the hard part. When there is a lot of dialogue flowing, sometimes we forget to use those three little words.
Summarizing with "Who's gonna do what by when?" assigns accountablility, defines what success will look like and establishes timeframes. "Who's gonna do what by when?" drives success. The "who" The "who" assigns responsibility. It assigns accountability. It puts a name on the task. How many times have you left a meeting, knowing that "we" are going to do "x." Who is "we?" Is it you? Is it Harry? Or Olivia? Have you ever assumed responsibility has been assigned (to someone else, of course) only to be embarrassed two weeks later when asked how the project is going. Who, me? Specifically articulating the "who" removes all doubt. It gives others an understanding of who to deal with to move projects along. It assigns responsibility.
The "what" The "what" is the task. It is the end result that the "who" is supposed to achieve The "what" is the action part of this triad. It can be anything from a major project to making a phone call. The "what" drives results. And the more the "what" is described in terms of end results, rather than activities, the more effectively the results will be achieved, right?
The "by when" The "by when" sets up the target date. It clears up expectations about timing. It helps the "whos" manage their work. It helps other manage the results of the meeting. It avoids awkward situations.
Have you ever had someone follow up with you on a task way before you thought it was due? Unclear expectations make for disappointments, interpersonal "challenges" and poor results.
Setting a target date lets everyone know what the time frames are. It lets the "who" set his or her work priorities. It enables planned work, rather than stress driven or crisis work.
So... Who's gonna do what by when? You are gonna use the three little words at your very next meeting. Just watch and see what happens! You will drive success. You will get things done. Who knows, you may even enjoy the meeting!