So, how to make meetings more productive? Is it the sound of chirping crickets? If that’s the case, your meetings may be suffering from a lack of employee engagement. And it’s not entirely the employee’s fault.
According to researchers, many of today’s corporate employees view meetings as time-wasting interruptions that feel a lot like lectures and leave them little room to express their own opinions and ideas. And so they become disengaged, quietly waiting until the meeting ends so they can get back to being productive.
If your last meeting seemed to prompt more shrugged shoulders and glazed expressions than raised arms, try these five tips to stimulate employee engagement at your next meeting.
- Change it up
Meetings that are formulaic and predictable are very effective—that is if your goal is to kill employee interest and engagement right off the bat. So lose those tired “this is the way we’ve always done it” habits and start changing things up. If the meeting is always held in the same room, try moving it to another suitable location. If managers and employees always default to the same old seating arrangement, mix things up so that all are encouraged to sit by others they normally wouldn’t. An easy way to do this is to greet people as they arrive at the meeting, hand them a colored slip of paper and ask them to take a seat with a corresponding colored dot affixed to it. Even little changes in the routine can bring new energy into a meeting that can spark higher levels of interest and engagement.
- Encourage participation
All too often, rigid adherence to preset agendas leaves little room for employees to express their ideas and opinions during company meetings. Encourage participation from all employees, including those outside the physical office. In this day and age we have great tools like video conferencing that connect people from any location. Wherever the employees are at, engagement will be encouraged with a safe-to-speak atmosphere of open discussion—where all ideas and opinions are considered. Ideally, this atmosphere should be an extension of a healthy corporate culture that already exists within the organization.
- Make pre-meeting assignments
Employee engagement comes from empowerment, and that comes from being informed and prepared prior to attending a meeting. Assigning employees or teams (that tend to hang back during meetings) to prepare ideas and potential solutions regarding a specific problem that will be discussed during an upcoming meeting is a smart way to facilitate active participation. To take it a step further, assigning a non-manager employee to run the next meeting could be an effective way to break down barriers between management and employees, resulting in greater participation and engagement during the meeting and better communication and collaboration afterward.
- Give positive feedback and recognition
Feeling that efforts and ideas are valued and appreciated is a major driver of employee engagement. And few things generate more interest and engagement during meetings than receiving positive feedback and recognition—in front of their peers—for the thoughts and ideas they share. Organizations struggling to implement effective employee recognition and rewards programs will discover that greater engagement leads to better employee performance—and as a result better employee recognition.
- Take quick and positive post-meeting action
As important as recognizing contributions during meetings is, acting on employee ideas and feedback in positive ways after the meeting ends is even more critical. After all, actions show employees better than words ever could that they are being listened to and taken seriously. And the realization that the company respects them is a strong driver of employee participation, contribution and engagement, not just during meetings but also in each and every aspect of their jobs.
All and all, work to set goals and be proactive in changing up your meeting format so everyone can get something out of it.