How Accounting Managers Can Run the Most Effective Meetings

By Robert Half on January 6, 2016 at 3:00pm

Even with all the phone calls and emails you exchange during the work day, accounting managers can still run effective meetings with their finance and accounting department. In-person meetings are valuable ways to share information, collaborate with other departments, offer leadership training and get all hands on deck to handle rising business demands.

So your team can focus on high-priority tasks for the business, you’ll need to keep staff meetings to a minimum in terms of frequency and time. More than that, meetings should help you boost productivity in the workplace, rather than the opposite.

Here’s how to make effective face-to-face meetings happen in the finance and accounting world:

Re-examine the routine

Just because you have a staff meeting every Monday morning doesn’t mean you should have one. If you’re having difficulty creating a meaningful agenda, or your finance and accounting team spends more time chatting (or staring out the window), you may need to dial back the frequency of some standing meetings. Consider whether memos, group emails, briefing reports, or collaborative file-sharing solutions would be sufficient for sharing information that otherwise would be covered in a meeting or conference call. Think of how you can change your next business meeting so no one thinks of it as a waste of time.

Be selective when sending invitations

Does every person on the list of attendees need to be present? People are often invited to meetings as a matter of courtesy. However, if someone doesn’t have a stake in the majority of items on the agenda, make clear that his or her attendance is optional. A lengthy participant list — and extensive agenda — are indicators you may be trying to cover too much ground in a single meeting. For some discussions, consider holding shorter, more strategic sessions with key personnel only.

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Provide some prep

Build your presentation skills, and send information to invitees in advance of the meeting so everyone knows the purpose for getting together and the topics to be covered. Attendees should receive, at minimum, high-level agendas to review and comment on prior to the session. If possible, include any materials — such as a slide deck or report — that you intend to use during the meeting. By letting participants do their homework before convening, you’ll be able to move through essential information more quickly and leave more time for discussion.

Set aside time for fresh thinking

Another strategy to make meetings matter more is to leave time at the end of some sessions for team members to share new ideas and insights or to brainstorm on how to solve problems or increase efficiency at the firm. Just don't let it drag on too long.

A Robert Half survey found that the amount of time, on average, finance leaders spend in meetings is 24 percent, and 21 percent of that time is wasted.

So, as an accounting manager, you’ll be wise to keep staff meetings brief, to the point, and as productive as possible. Doing so could have a positive impact on your firm’s overall productivity and competitive edge.

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