Many Managers Are Trying A Number Of Ways To Make Such Meetings More Efficient Or Scarce.
When I facilitated one of the last staff meetings at the last company I founded, HR Solutions, my Management Team and I tried something new: we stood the entire time. We did so deliberately since our staff meetings were simply running too long. The great news: standing the entire length of the meeting effectively worked to shorten the meeting.
We also had one team member who loved to hear himself talk. Meetings with him were not efficient whatsoever.
As with many organizations, we also had too many meetings. U.S. workers spend an average of 31 hours in meetings each month¹. Simply put, too much time spent in meetings results in wasted productivity. It also results in a loss of $25,000 in payroll costs per employee.² In fact, and astoundingly, reducing meetings by 40% will increase productivity by 71%³.
Meetings are also a source of stress for both managers and employees. Interestingly, meetings in and of themselves are not the cause of the problem. The reality is that the meetings are not created with a bad mind-set. The basic premise for a meeting is that leaders want more people informed and/or involved in decision-making, and thus make workers feel more engaged and appreciated. However, despite the aforementioned reference about having too many meetings, the real negative drag is less about the quantity of meetings, but rather the quality of the meetings. Specifically, the meetings are either poorly run, go on too long, or don’t have a clear purpose, the end results are very detrimental.
So here are six useful tips for better meetings:
1. Establish an Executive-In-Charge for the meetings.
Not doing so is a very common mistake. Assign someone in leadership responsibility to meeting
oversight and encourage your leaders to have new conversations with team members about what
needs to change. Make it a point to answer the following questions:
- What don’t we need anymore?
- How do were go about inviting people to the meeting?
- How long should our meetings be?
- Who is talking too much during our meeting?
- Who should we invite to talk and participate more?
2. Create a well-established agenda for the meeting.
Simply put, if you don’t have an agenda for your meeting, it will certainly drag on too long. Invite your team leaders and team members to suggest items for the agenda. Importantly, establish a confidential means for these people to suggest items for the meeting agenda, since many people might not feel comfortable publicly suggesting the item.
3. Ensure that your meeting is all about concrete and valuable work.
Your meetings should not be about fulfilling a social agenda or building community; these should be accomplished outside of your meetings. The meetings should be centered on getting things done and achieving your team and company goals.
4. Ensure that the meeting is run as tight as possible.
Research data has repeatedly shown that teams get more done when they are working against the clock. Given the limited and established time for the meeting, your team members will focus more than they typically would.
5. Facilitate, don’t dominate.
Further data research has shown that team members rank the least effective meetings as those where the leader does most of the talking. This fact gets to the core of what is positive about meetings: that they are designed to give power and voice to ALL team members, not just a few.
6. Ask for feedback.
Too many organizations have no set process to evaluate whether their meetings are effective. One of the best ways to elicit valuable feedback about your meetings and how they are perceived is to include questions about them in your confidential employee engagement surveys.
I sincerely wish and know that these tips will help you and your team members have much more effective workplace meetings.
- Zippia, San Francisco, CA.
- University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
- MIT Sloan Management Review, 2022.