Posted by Jane Irene Kelly on Monday, January 6, 2014 - 07:00
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 that 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 must be more productive.
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.
Keep in mind that email can save you time that you might otherwise spend in meetings, but you can also waste a lot of time on email.
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.
Provide some prep
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. A Robert Half survey of chief financial officers found that innovation is often stifled in finance and accounting organizations due to bureaucracy and the time-pull of everyday demands (e.g., too many meetings).
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.
Are you reading this because you'd like to become an accounting manager? Read So You Want to Be an Accounting Manager? for the duties and expectations.
Editor's note: This post was updated in 2016 to reflect more current information.