No CNC shop owner or manager wants to impede production with unnecessary meetings. However, if properly conducted, purposeful meetings can actually have a positive effect on productivity and employee morale. With a little advance planning and by establishing a few ground rules up front, you can conduct more effective meetings. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Whenever possible, schedule the meeting in advance or establish a regular meeting time for recurring events. This way you won’t be as likely to interrupt the workflow and your people can be better prepared to participate.
In many cases it makes sense to have meetings later in the day. People whose workday begins in the morning typically are most productive in the pre-afternoon hours.
Meetings should always have a stated purpose, an agenda to follow and a clearly defined expectation of what’s next. For example, if the meeting is to discuss the need for new equipment, your people should be told what their role is in the process. Do you want their input on specific machine issues to define a need? Do you want them to investigate alternative products? Are they to share concerns they have with how new machines might change their jobs? What are the next steps you want them to take and what is the due date?
Have regular status meetings with key employees. These are often weekly or bi-monthly. Always hold them at the same time and in the same place, and have everyone stand rather than sit throughout the meeting. This will encourage brevity and help keep people focused. Go around the room and have each person briefly discuss the status of the projects they are working on, and encourage them to bring up any concerns or questions. Others in the meeting can offer helpful suggestions or the meeting leader can decide to have further one-to-one discussions after the meeting.
Don’t let meetings lose focus and drift into other areas. If a participant brings up an issue that’s completely off the agenda, acknowledge the concern, make a note of it and indicate that you two will discuss it after the meeting. Remind everyone that there is a specific goal for this meeting and, to insure the best use of everyone’s time, you must stick to the agenda.
Always follow up. If you don’t have an appropriate answer to a question raised in a meeting, agree to find out the answer and then get back to the individual as soon as possible. If you set a deadline to receive information from those in a meeting, hold them accountable. In the same way, if you tell your people you’ll provide progress reports on important issues, such as acquiring new equipment or scheduling training, make sure you keep your promises.
Meetings can be an efficient way to communicate important information, solve or head off problems, and build trust and teamwork. Hopefully these tips will help make all of your meetings more productive.