Sometimes when we’re planning a meeting we’re so busy and have so many competing demands on our time that we, and our team, focus only the next task before us so we can check it off our to-do list and keep moving.

I suggest you take a step back and see if how you work helps team members improve. You’re probably not facilitating improvement if your process does not do the following:

  • Let team members participate in decision-making and take initiative.
  • Communicate improvements to all stakeholders.
  • Monitor and adjust performance strategies with an ongoing review of techniques and processes.
  • Let staff members and volunteers find opportunities for improvement.

I recognize that we’re juggling multiple meetings and feel like we barely have time to breathe, much less spend precious time analyzing how we plan “our process.” But without this process, we risk the success of all future meetings.

Consider making these additions to your to-do list:

  • Start the planning process with a team meeting. Use it to clearly identify meeting objectives and goals and establish a way to measure success. Use the opportunity to harness the group’s collective wisdom about what worked well in the past or what issues they encountered. Use the feedback to design your meeting process.
  • Make sure all team members share their expertise. At your regular team meetings, consider focusing on one team member’s responsibilities/duties and having that person discuss their best practices, accomplishments, challenges and issues. Too often team members have no idea about processes for areas outside their scope of responsibility. If they miss a deadline, for example, how might that impact the work of a colleague?
  • Develop systems that let information be shared easily. I like to use a web-based project management and collaboration tool that allows team members and volunteers to share documents, assign tasks, update each other on accomplishments and provide daily recaps of activities. Some programs cost as little as $20 a month; if your budget is too tight, try sharing files via GoogleDocs.
  • Close the loop with a final meeting. Bring the team back together to analyze the meeting you planned together. Review the processes that were in place and recommend improvements. The time you spend on this step is crucial to the success of future meetings.

Adding these steps may take time and effort on everyone’s part but will be well worth it if it lets you prevent future problems and leads to a process that makes everyone more productive. If you have other methods that work for your team, please share them in the comment section below.

Next: MBEC 32.12 — Participate in professional development activities

See all 33 skills you need to be an effective planner.