It’s probably fair to say that the last thing you want to do at a company meeting is take minutes. While this can seem like a burden or even unnecessary, the opposite is true. Such minutes matter for several reasons, but in general, they provide a historical record of the company’s short- and long-term planning.
To take a step back, let’s first establish what meeting minutes are. In general, meeting minutes are simply a record of the overall conversation and decisions that occur during a meeting. Meetings can be rather large and significant, such as board meetings, or smaller, such as team meetings. Consequently, minutes can be formal or informal depending on a meeting’s purpose and scope.
Meeting minutes are typically taken by a representative such as a secretary or administrative assistant. But anyone can be delegated to take the minutes. After the meeting, the minutes are typically distributed via email and are kept on record. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s dive into three reasons why meeting minutes are critical to team success.
1. To Remind and Inform
How many meetings have you led or attended only to forget what was discussed the next day or next week? It can happen to anyone. For that reason, you need meeting minutes to help remind everyone of what took place during the meeting. For instance, if specific tasks were delegated, minutes can help remind those responsible what they were assigned to do. Or if key decisions were made, they can help remind everyone what the final outcome was.
Additionally, minutes can also be informative for those who weren’t present. Not everyone can attend every meeting, especially in today’s hybrid environment, where some colleagues may be in the office while others work from home. Distributing minutes to everyone can allow those who were unable to attend to see what they missed.
Meeting minutes should follow a few guidelines. They should include when the meeting happened, where it happened, and who was in attendance. It’s also beneficial to write up the minutes to reflect the correct order of events, following the main agenda. This helps everyone stay on track and allows everyone to be on the same page.
2. To Measure Progress
Nobody likes to attend a wasteful, purposeless meeting. Time is precious, especially when everyone has so many work and home obligations. There really are only so many minutes in a day, and only so many hours in the workday. It’s vital to make the most productive use possible of those valuable hours. Thankfully, meeting minutes can help you avoid the pitfall of having a meeting just for the sake of it.
With minutes, those running the meeting can jump right back into continuing the discussion and dialogue from the last meeting. Everyone — whether they were in attendance or not — can follow along and chime in when necessary because of the minutes. Anyone assigned a task can report back on how it went or the end result. Minutes allow you to follow up on decisions that were put into action at a previous meeting.
Once meeting minutes are recorded, it’s easy to go back and see the progress the team has made over time. When project milestones have been recorded, there’s no ambiguity about the state of a project’s progress. Minutes can be an excellent record for leaders to take to their executive directors or board members. Measuring progress over a long period of time can be challenging, but meeting minutes are one fairly easy way to see growth.
3. To Offer Legal Protection
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, meeting minutes can offer protection from a legal perspective. Because minutes are a record of what occurred during a meeting, they can be documentation if any type of dispute comes up. While no one wants to be in a legal dispute, it can happen to any company no matter how big or small.
Meeting minutes can serve as evidence of conversations that took place and actions made during a meeting. Because of this, they are seen as legal documents for tax officials and courts. Also if there are any company audits, the meeting minutes can be reviewed as part of a common procedure. It’s important to ensure minutes are taken seriously, particularly for large company-wide or board meetings.
To offer legal protection, however, minutes should follow the order of the agenda and take note of any votes or final decisions. Also, the individual responsible for taking the minutes needs to list those in attendance and ensure there is a quorum before votes are taken. These are all standard protocols that will be necessary for the minutes to help in a legal dispute.
At the end of the day, meeting minutes are a necessity. Knowing they can be helpful reminders, measure progress, and offer legal protection is enough to ensure they be taken at each meeting. They can also keep the team on track and accountable toward their goals. The next time you want to bypass assigning meeting minutes, think again. Remember that they are for you and your company’s own good.