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Working Better: Hold Meetings That Work

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered...

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about work, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month.


Why do we have meetings? Though it’s easy to forget this as your eyes glaze over during a meandering session, the idea is to bring people together to solve a problem. Ideally, something will change in the world (or at least in the office) by the time the meeting is done. Here’s how to pull it off.

Invite selectively. No one should go to a meeting unless they need to be there. Change your mind-set. Being invited doesn’t necessarily mean you’re important—maybe people think you have nothing better to do.

Have a clear agenda. Every meeting should have a written (or, better, emailed) agenda with a clearly defined short time frame next to each item. Treat diversions as the equivalent of leaving dirty dishes in the office sink: It’s rude and antisocial and everyone loses.

“It’s Monday” is not a good reason to have a meeting. People should know their job descriptions well enough that they don’t need to meet each week in a large group to confirm that, yep, they’re still doing their jobs.

Short one-on-ones are better than big meetings. Quick meetings are more efficient than large group ones, and give people the chance to raise issues without the challenge of group dynamics.

Spell out goals. At the beginning of each meeting, the leader should explicitly outline the meeting’s goals.

Identify next steps. Meetings are a way of setting into motion things that need to get done. At the end of yours, go through the agenda and confirm assignments and due dates.

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