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Maximize Productivity through Effective Meeting Strategies

If you’re a manager, you know how vital it is to manage your team’s time efficiently. It's not uncommon for managers to grapple with the challenge of overbooked calendars. These busy schedules can often lead to decreased productivity, as constant meetings not only keep us from getting tasks done, they leave us feeling exhausted. The solution? Instilling a meeting culture with clear rules of engagement.


Yari Ising, founder of The Ising Agency, a firm offering operations, recruiting, and admin support for stretched-thin in-house teams shared her insights on how to improve meeting culture. With over 10 years of experience leading teams, she has seen firsthand the common blindspots that managers have, along with what employees need most from managers.


Whether you lead a large department, a small start-up, or a single team, Yari’s suggestions for effective meetings can significantly enhance your team’s productivity.


Take Ownership of Your Calendar


Forward-thinking managers urge their teams to take ownership of their schedules. Before agreeing to any meeting, question if you really need to attend. Is the meeting’s objective clear? Can you contribute unique value? Would receiving the notes after be sufficient to keep you informed? 


Evaluate the meeting’s relevance to your role and responsibilities, and respect your time. It's perfectly acceptable to decline if the meeting doesn't align with your priorities. You can always offer to provide input before or follow up with next steps after. 


As meeting leaders, we must provide context for the meeting so our team members can decide how to best engage. Early on, Yari recommends reminding people that it’s OK to decline a meeting as this is a hard behavior to shift. But as a meeting leader, wouldn’t you prefer to have 2 highly engaged participants instead of 5 people who are multitasking and disengaged? Yari and I both would. 


Protect a No Meeting Day


We are all seeking the optimal balance between meeting participation and focused work periods. Scheduling a specific day for undisturbed work can enhance concentration and efficiency. It does this not only by providing larger chunks of uninterrupted time, but also by preventing the constant context shifting that can hinder productivity.


When you institute a no-meeting day as a team, you increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to stick with it. Yari suggests letting people outside your team know that the specific day is for focused work so they understand why you’re not available. Then, you can be flexible in overriding your rule when there’s something urgent that needs a meeting.  


Exit A Meeting To Maximize Productivity


Once you’ve cultivated a meeting culture that respects people's time and has explicit rules of engagement, you might consider including an “exit strategy.” In short, Yari offers that if you’re in a meeting that truly is not a productive use of your time, you have the option to gracefully exit. 


Before instituting this policy, it's vital that team members are comfortable opting out of meetings that don’t fit with their priorities. That’s step one in building a culture of owning your calendar. Step two is recognizing during a meeting that it’s better to gently inform the group that you need to hop, rather than to stay and waste your time or disrespect the meeting participants by multi-tasking.  


One note of caution. While the exit strategy can be appropriate for internal teamwork, Yari says that once you've committed to a meeting with external stakeholders, try to honor that commitment. Show up and stay engaged, even if it doesn’t feel like your most productive time. 


In conclusion, meetings are an important part of time management and collaboration. By implementing these strategies, you can tremendously enhance your team's productivity and job satisfaction.


Listen to the entire episode HERE to learn more about conflict management.




Keep up with Yari


- Follow Yari on LinkedIn here


- Check more of Yari’s works here


Free Workshop Handout for Optimizing Meeting Participation


Download my workshop handout for optimizing meeting participation. You’ll learn how to decide who should be engaged before, during and after a meeting, how to engage them, and how to make the shift from everyone being invited to engaging people appropriately at each stage.


To get these guest bonuses and many other member benefits, become a member of The Modern Manager Podcast+ Community.


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The Modern Manager is a leadership podcast for rockstar managers who want to create a working environment where people thrive, and great work gets done.


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