Effective meetings @Naukri

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Did you know ?

Every day 83 million people attend 11.5 million meetings

No ? Ok, lets get started

Meetings, a fancy word in corporate that everyone come across a lot many times

(For some it can be a very effective excuse to avoid other things though :-P)

Meetings are integral part of any process oriented organization.

It makes sense to meet every while to get the status updates, near future plans, project deadlines, company’s future projection etc.

Now why we are writing this post is because something is wrong with meetings that we all should improve and we are improving.

Meetings? Or time eaters

When you call for a meeting, you get your team out of their productive momentum. The meeting is scheduled for say 1 hour but actually it is 10–12 hours trade off for something that we mostly spend on discussing irrelevant things.

10 people * 1 hour = 10 hours

+2–3 hours to get them back to the momentum

So meetings are simple time eaters of productive hours if not organized well.

Planned vs out of focus discussion

Most of the time we plan a meeting as soon as we feel to meet because it looks fancy to be a part of meeting. And we end up sending invites without planning attendees and the clear agenda communication.

How meetings work usually.

Traditional Meetings

Image source : http://www.thedesigngym.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Slide11-690×339.jpg

Most of the meeting attendees do not do their homework and this leads to discussions which should be clarified before meeting.

This leads to out of scope discussions and elongated meetings. Sometimes meetings procreate more meetings as well.

What should you do?

Meetings are toxic if not planned properly.

First and most effective technique is

Avoid meetings until unavoidable 😉

Avoid meetings until unavoidable.

Avoid Meetings

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Simulate it as hitting the gym, You find reasons to avoid going to the gym.

But once you realize that you are out of shape you forcefully go with all the diet plan and schedule.

Treat meetings the same as above.

Invite fewest possible

Invite only those who can have positive impact on the quality of discussion. It not only adds quality but also saves a lot of time for other indirect attendees.

Educate everyone about it

Send clear meeting invites with start, end time and duration so that everyone can make their mind and plan their day accordingly. Send reminders so that everyone keeps up with agenda and time.

We at naukri send very clear meeting invites to the fewest possible attendees.

Clear agenda to the attendees

Mention the agenda clearly and if possible assign the kind of homework you want each attendee to come prepared with.

We @ Naukri achieved this in our traditional iteration meetings. To make our preiteration meeting more productive we started backlog grooming.

Read more about iteration meetings and backlog grooming on our naukri engineering blog.

This reduced nearly 50% of our meeting duration and converted our hours from wastage to investment.

Our preiteration meetings last no longer than 1-1.5 hours after introduction of backlog grooming.

Welcome with specific problem

The meeting organizer should welcome them all on time (without wasting a single minute).

Meeting should start with a brief introduction about the purpose of this meeting.

It should be very transparent about the past happenings or future projections to everyone.

Fixed duration meetings

The duration you mentioned in the invitation mail should be like a promise.

Like we get out of gym as soon as we hit the clock 😉 remember?

Hit the stopwatch as soon as it interrupts you with a noise call it the end of meeting.

Meet on site of crime (if possible)

Most of the times we meet at conference rooms. This is good practice to get aside of the workplace to avoid disturbing others.

However meeting at the place of reason behind meeting brings a lot of clarity. You can make signs to the real things and can have a look at something important present there and then.

It saves you a lot of time and the promises to get back on something later.

Minutes of meeting

Make someone accountable to make a not of meeting highlights. This can be very helpful for those who are not direct stakeholders of that meeting.

Also these MOMs can be referenced later to remember what we discussed in the meeting ( say 3 months ago ).

We always maintain the MOMs here at naukri for future references and we often share them with other people via email or whatsapp screenshots.

Make someone Accountable for plan

We meet to induce something out of meetings. Some action plan, some investigation to be done etc.

Most of the times, the plan remains unexecuted. It is advised to make someone accountable to come back with the results in a stipulated time.

We @Naukri often nominate someone from the attendees to fix the problems we are facing or plan we decided for future and come back with the solution within a specified time frame. This has helped us a lot in improving and mitigating the problems.

You may mention the nominated person in MOMs itself with the duration they need to report back. This will help people who were not a part of meeting to contact the person as well.

@Naukri we share the action plans and the various outcomes in the form of MOMs to the senior management at the end of each iteration. This helps them get aware of the pitfalls and the resolutions we planned and hence our problems get fixed in a blink of eye.

No meetings Thursdays

You can also decide not to do any meetings on Thursdays.

(Not compulsorily Thursday, you can plan as per your convenience)

This will save you about say

  • 10 meetings for 10 departments

  • Each meeting on average is around 1 hour

  • And each meeting have average 10 attendees.

  • So 10 meetings * 1 hour * (10) people

100 productive hours in which you can complete around 10 stories.

We do it 3 days a week, in due course we do not plan any meetings within 12 A.M to 5 P.M time frame.

This has given a lot of productive time to the teams and some of our teams have told this in the feedback session after initial trials.

This is one thing that we recently introduced in Naukri in recent times and is still under adoption.

Read more about Stories and capacity planning in agile.

Other Knicks knacks

  • Keep your phone silent

  • Always be on time

  • Come prepared with homework

  • Work on the outcome from meeting.

  • Avoid snacks and talks about the movie you watched at weekend or your new jumpsuit.

The most important one is –

Keep smiling and be pro(a/du)ctive.

We @ Naukri will keep sharing our experiences with you.

Stay tuned for more articles on productivity and keep sharing the good things.

Posted in Agile, Culture, General