The 9 Golden Rules for More Efficient Global Meetings
Raise your hand if you work for a multinational company. We do! And we know how awesome that is! Working for companies with international teams is an experience that’s like no other. You meet people from diverse educational, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds all at once. You grow both professionally and personally, and fast. You learn so much more than you can ever learn in a uniform, local workplace. Granted, that’s a huge advantage. However, if you’ve lived through positives, you’ve probably also survived the negative.
Yep, you guessed it. I can almost hear you all grumbling about the biggest issue that all multinational teams struggle through: meetings. For everyone who’s survived an international meeting, here’s a pat on the back. For anyone who’s actually ran the meeting, here’s a high five. And for those rare few who have run these meetings successfully: you guys are unicorns.
Well, guess what? We have! I’m assuming your thoughts right this second are a fusion of, “I’ll believe it when I see it!”, and “Tell me your secret, Sensei!”. You’d be glad to know that we’re not stingy. So we’re sharing our secret sauce with you right here, right now.
Here are our 9 Golden Rules for Running Efficient Global Meetings.
1. Consider Time Zones
You might be diverse in everything, but there’s one thing you will all agree on – and if you don’t, we advise checking your hiring process: the Earth is round with different time zones. Sure, you can’t change that, but check your team members’ different time zones and preferred meeting times before setting up a meeting. A 11 a.m. meeting for you might be a 3 a.m. meeting for someone else. Granted, that meeting “needs to happen”, but it also needs to be efficient. You don’t want them to mute you and continue sleeping, now do you?
2. Rotate Meeting Times
On that same note, we realize finding the perfect time for everyone is practically impossible. So here’s an awesome idea no one thought of before: Rotate meeting times! Brilliant, right? Switching up your meeting times means that everyone on the team gets treated fairly. This also keeps the relationship humane and compassionate, since everyone’s “chipping in” when it comes to inconveniences. That way, your colleague in Miami won’t need to wake up at 3 a.m. every single time you’re having a mid-morning meeting in Dubai.
3. Invite Only the Necessary Members
How many of you have had to suffer through an after-midnight meeting only to remain muted throughout and have no role to play whatsoever? We send out a huge apology your way – and a venti americano with two extra shots. The lesson to learn from this is to always invite only the necessary team members. And for all those on need-to-know, share your Quip meeting notes with them and encourage them to ask you questions via Chatter when they’re fully awake and caffeinated.
4. Set an Agenda – and Stick to It.
Easier said than done. Right? But this is a cornerstone of running virtual, cross-country, efficient meetings. Your agenda could be as brief or as detailed as possible. It could be a stand-alone email or bullets written inside the meeting invite. No matter what your agenda looks like, make sure you share one with your team ahead of time. An agenda is necessary to keep small talk at bay and keep the members from straying off topic, which would eventually cause the meeting to run too long. And if you’re the one waking up at 3 a.m. this time, we know you don’t want to be kept awake a moment longer than necessary.
5. Be. On. Time!
Along those same lines, always be on time. In fact, strive to be ready 10 minutes ahead of time. Use those moments for small talk with your team, to prepare your questions, or simply to read through the agenda. Always remind yourself that this meeting might be inconveniencing someone, and show compassion and respect by trying to minimize that discomfort. One last note, even if the calendar invite says 50 minutes, everyone appreciates speed and efficiency. So be on time, cover your agenda, don’t regress, and streamline that meeting!
6. Encourage Side Chats
We don’t mean the kind your school teacher discouraged during math class. Everyone attending the meeting should be fully focused. However, very often, some issues will arises that are not included in the agenda. So instead of allowing the involved members to take over the meeting and discuss their unforeseen issues on the spot, encourage them to take the discussion offline on Chatter, or maybe to schedule another separate meeting later on.
7. Share Notes, Minutes, and Resources
We’re fairly certain this scenario sounds familiar: “Hello? Can you hear me?”, “Yes, can you hear me?”, “Yes, can you?”, “Wait, could you please repeat that?”, “…”
Miscommunication is common, certain, and unavoidable when it comes to virtual meetings. However, you can take steps to minimize it. Make sure you assign someone to take minutes, preferably in the same room as the majority of the attendees – you know, so they can make out most of the conversation. Afterwards, share these minutes, along with any content and resources you used and referred to with all the attendees. Not only does this ensure they didn’t miss anything, but also gives them the chance to go over everything with full focus and vigilance.
8. Have An Open Mind
Running efficient global meetings is not only about actual efficiency. Remember that you’re working with real people – not machines – even if the only contact you have with them is digital.
When having international meetings When working for multinational companies, it’s necessary to keep an open mind. You will be faced with behaviors, norms, and expectations that might seem alien to you at first. In fact, you yourself might seem alien to whoever’s on the other end of that line.
So we encourage you to do two things: First, take some time to get to know their cultures, maybe even read up on it, in order to minimize chances of giving offense. This understanding, compassion, and respect will surely spread and reduce any friction that tends to be amplified in multinational offices. Second, don’t take yourself too seriously. Consider that your foreign teammates also don’t know much about you, and somethings that may regularly seem offensive to you are probably due to misinformation and miscommunication. Smile, clarify, and maintain respect. After all, everyone is striving to get along.
9. Plan Physical Meetups
This might not be feasible for every company, but if it is, then definitely do it! Plan regular meetups for your multinational team. It could be every quarter or every year, depending on your means. Regarding each other as actual humans with real voices, faces, and personalities will do wonders to easing up future virtual meetings. While you at it, make sure your physical meeting includes some team building activities. Show your team that their skills and personalities are complimentary. Help them learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, in order to best utilize each for future projects. And the most important part is have fun together! This will leave a positive lasting impression among members and would help smooth out rough situations in the future.
Building a community for your employees, clients, and partners is vital for a thriving successful business. If you’re interested in knowing more about how you can do that, request a demo from our consultants to discuss how our Communities services can help you do that!