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Calling Another Meeting?  Ask Yourself Three Questions!  

Published Thursday, May 30, 2019
by McKinsey & Company

employees gathered in conference room for a meetingMeetings can improve company communication, help increase productivity and generate new ideas.  Meetings can also be a huge waste of time and money.  As a leader, how can you ensure your meetings are positive and productive?  

According to McKinsey, before calling your next meeting, ask yourself the following three questions:  

  1. Should we be meeting at all?
  2. What is the purpose of this meeting?
  3. What is everyone’s role?

The third question, defining each person’s role at a meeting is extremely important, yet often forgotten. Before the meeting is called, the leader needs to take time to determine who will be invited to the meeting and, here’s an ego check, clearly communicate with each person to let them know what role they will be playing in the meeting. 

Meeting Roles

  • Decision maker(s)are the only ones with a vote and the ones with responsibility to decide things as they see fit.  If they get stuck, they should jointly align on how to escalate the decision or otherwise get the process unstuck, even if this means agreeing to “disagree and commit.”
  • Advisers give input and shape the decision. They have an outsize voice in setting the context of the decision and a big stake in its outcome—for example, the decision might affect their profit-and-loss statement. But they don’t actually have a vote on the decision.
  • Recommenders conduct the analyses, explore the alternatives, illuminate the pros and cons, and ultimately recommend a course of action to the advisers and decision makers. They see the day-to-day implications of the decision, but they also have no vote. In general, the more recommenders the better in the process—but not in the decision meeting itself, as noted in the exhibit.
  • Execution partners don’t give input so much as get deeply involved in implementing the decision, and therefore they must be informed. For speed and clarity, you will need the right ones in the room when the decision is made so they can ask clarifying questions and spot flaws that might hinder implementation. Notably, the number of execution partners doesn’t necessarily depend on the importance of the decision. These stakeholders are all critically important, and they should hear so from you—even as you take away their decision rights, votes, veto power, and escalation authority, as appropriate. 

Remember, just because they don’t have a vote doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice. Good decisions are the culmination of a thoughtful process. Clarified roles will help that process be thorough—and speedy. 


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