Have you turned into a Meeting Professional?

When you are in a Start-up, you wish you had the resources and capacity; when you’re in that corporation, you want the company to have a sense of urgency and understanding of the level of used money. While both corporate and Start-up environments offer unique advantages, there’s a valuable lesson corporate employees can learn from their peers in the startup world: the importance of maintaining a sense of urgency and ensuring that every meeting has a clear, actionable outcome.

I went to my notes from previous meetings with Start-up people to build up lessons learned that corporate employees can take away from startups to prevent turning into meeting professionals and instead focus on delivering tangible results.

“This could have been an email.”

I really like how Start-ups thrive on a lean mentality. They understand the situation where resources are limited, and every action must contribute to the company’s growth. Corporate employees can benefit from adopting this mindset by reevaluating the necessity of meetings and focusing on the value they bring. Rather than scheduling meetings out of habit, consider whether the information can be conveyed more efficiently by email, chat, or a brief phone call. In many cases, the meme “This could have been an email” is more than accurate.

“Are we contemplating escape routes, or what?”

How many calendar invites without the agenda have you accepted this week? One common pitfall in the corporate world is scheduling meetings without a clear purpose or plan. I’ve done that, and even if I know how things should be done, I will most likely do that again next week. Luckily, I have people who will remind me of that. It’s not like it’s all lean and mean at every startup, but I claim that Startups excel way better in this area by establishing clear objectives for each session. Corporate professionals should adopt this practice, ensuring that every meeting has a specific goal, whether to make a decision, share information or brainstorm solutions. When everyone understands the meeting’s purpose, staying focused and driving actionable outcomes is easier.

Do you know how much your meeting costs?

Start-ups need to understand that time is a precious resource. They often implement strict time limits for meetings to ensure efficiency. We in corporations are rarely fighting over our existence, but still, we could set a maximum duration or cost for our meetings. Many of the companies have calculated an internal hour price for their employees. If you have a budget, you can quickly assess what you could get with the money you just put into the one-hour meeting with 20 of your closest colleagues. (I know it’s not always about the money) If no one else, you should encourage attendees to stay on track, avoid unnecessary tangents, and work towards a resolution within the allotted time. If nothing else helps, sharing the meeting cost calculation would do the trick.

Is the deliverable of the meeting another meeting?

One of the most significant differences I’ve noticed between meetings in Start-up and corporate settings is the emphasis on actionable outcomes. The Start-ups I have worked with can’t afford to leave things hanging, so meetings always conclude with assigned action items and responsibilities for most meeting participants. I would want all corporations to adopt this practice by ensuring each session has clear action items, deadlines, and accountable individuals. For me, these actions are signs of ownership and urgency.

You promised to do this!

With my personal history with projects and project management, this is one of my favorite points. I’ve wondered so, oh, so many times why it is that people don’t see the big picture. If you have promised to do something within a specific time frame, do it! If you can’t, inform about it as soon as you know. And NO, you don’t leave it for the last day. In my opinion, Start-up’s master prioritizes accountability,by holding team members responsible for their commitments. They can’t afford not to! But how do we foster a similar culture of responsibility and accountability within our organizations? What does it take to own your work and your promises?

Make sure you don’t become a meeting professional!

In the corporate world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming a “meeting professional” who spends more time in discussions than delivering tangible results. By drawing inspiration from the startup mentality of maintaining a sense of urgency and ensuring that every meeting has a clear deliverable, we, corporate employees, can stay focused and efficient and ultimately drive better outcomes. Breaking the pattern is not easy, but we all know the essential steps in this journey. The hardest part is realizing the current situation and actively changing it!