Psychological science can make your meetings better
09 November 2018
Drawing from almost 200 scientific studies on workplace meetings, a team of psychological scientists provides recommendations for making the most out of meetings before they start, as they're happening, and after they've concluded. Their report is published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
- Assess current needs: Meetings should involve problem solving, decision making, or substantive discussion. They should not be held to share routine or non-urgent information.
- Circulate an agenda: Having an agenda makes the meeting priorities clear to all stakeholders and allows attendees to prepare beforehand.
- Invite the right people: Leaders should ask what the goal of the meeting is and whose expertise can help the team get there.
- Encourage contribution: Findings suggest that high-level performers use meetings to set goals, facilitate group understanding of work problems, and seek feedback.
- Make space for humour: Humour and laughter can stimulate positive meeting behaviours, encouraging participation and creative problem solving, research shows. These positive meeting behaviors predict team performance concurrently and two years later.
- Redirect complaining: Attendees should be aware that complaining can quickly lead to feelings of futility and hopelessness, and leaders should quell complaining as quickly as they can.
- Keep discussions focused: Leaders also make sure the purpose of the meeting and the agenda are followed. Leaders should be ready to identify dysfunctional behaviours and intervene to refocus the meeting.
- Share minutes: Sending meeting minutes serves as a record of the decisions that were made, a plan of action for next steps, and an outline of designated roles and responsibilities. This step also loops in people who weren't able to attend the meeting but need the information.
- Seek feedback: Feedback can inform the structure and content of future meetings. In particular, leaders can identify meeting problems to increase attendee satisfaction.
- Look ahead: To build on progress made during the meeting, stakeholders should think about future actions, follow-through, and immediate and long-term outcomes of the meeting.