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Tips for Leading an Effective Sustainability Meeting

When it comes to company sustainability programs, green teams/sustainability committees can be a powerful tool to get those projects implemented and keep your program successful. Yet for employees that already have a lot on their plate, thinking about their role on the committee outside of hour-long weekly meetings can be a challenge. So how can you maximize the efficiency of each meeting, while ensuring that the program keeps moving outside of it?

These four tips may help you out:

1. Keep an up-to-date agenda or action plan

It may seem obvious that meetings require agendas, but taking the time to create a living document where your discussion points are all listed goes a long way in keeping everything organized. This requires you to be considering every project on your plate, as well as timelines for their implementation.

Action plans are even better in this regard: keep a document that lists out the different steps each project needs to succeed, and then at each meeting, go through the plan and figure out where you are in the process. This saves the work of typing up a new agenda each week, plus it can be updated while in the meeting.

Of course, however you decide to prepare for the meeting, communication is key. Be sure to send out the agenda or action plan a full day in advance, to remind all committee members what it is they should come prepared to talk about.

2. Keep the meetings focused on deliverables

At the end of the day, the question for any member of a committee is always, “what do I need to do?” And if any member of the team needs to ask themselves this question, then the content of the meeting was not clear enough.

An easy way to ensure that everyone is up-to-date and in understanding of their tasks is to focus on the next steps for each project. If you’re getting a hydration station put in next month, what needs to be done beforehand? Who needs to be told? Make sure each step has someone assigned to this.

Additionally, it may be worth the time to spend the last five to ten minutes of the meeting recapping what everyone has to do. As elementary as it might sound, go around the room; “Bill, we need you to set up a meeting with the purchasing manager. Amy, it doesn’t look like you have anything on your plate until we hear back about the prices.” This creates an atmosphere of accountability, but also of understanding, as team members see how they all fit in together.

3. Tie your projects back to the overarching sustainability program

As important as deliverables are, it’s equally important that committee members stay engaged with the entire sustainability program. Hopefully you set goals for your program that tie into your company’s strategic aim. This means that even if your committee is focused on discrete projects, there’s a larger picture.

Take the time to review these goals, or champion your successes as projects get implemented. Perhaps even listing the goals at the bottom of each agenda will help keep them in mind.

4. Discuss internal communication plans at the meeting

It’s not uncommon for sustainability committees to be comprised of a handful of individuals who care about sustainability, while the rest of the company might seem more apathetic. For that reason, it can often feel like the successes of a program are only celebrated within the room, and this eventually drives away enthusiasm.

Be sure to discuss the best way to present information to the rest of the company at these meetings. As you go through the project list and action steps, continually ask yourself: “can this progress be reported?” If so, invite committee members to suggest how best to go about this. It keeps your green team engaged in the process, and feeling as though their efforts are being recognized.

Following these tips should help you to achieve successful meetings, though the Sustrana platform offers extensive education on how to construct the best possible sustainability team from the get-go. Be sure to request a demo of our app to check it out!