When you take a look at your schedule, do you see meeting after meeting? The average employee spends about 37 percent of their working time in meetings, according to a white paper from Verizon Business and attends more than 60 meetings per month. Unfortunately, about half of the time people spend in meetings is considered time wasted. All told, time-wasting meetings cost companies around $37 billion each year.
If your default response to a new concern or project is to schedule a meeting about it, it might be worth taking a new and different approach. Here are two ways to tell if a meeting is a must.
1. Does the Meeting Have a Clear Goal and Agenda?
Many employees have spent hours in meetings that seem to wander from topic to topic, without any concrete plans or any clear goals. Before you schedule a meeting, it’s important to determine if the meeting has a clear goal. Ask why you are calling the meeting and make a list of a few concrete objectives that you hope to get from it.
Creating an agenda for the meeting is also a must. Without an agenda, there’s a real risk for things to veer off course and for the meeting to jump from topic to topic, never accomplishing its goal. Along with creating a list of topics for the meeting and a schedule, decide how long it will last and who absolutely needs to be there.
2. Does Everyone Need to Be in the Same Room?
Another thing to ask when deciding whether a meeting is a must or not is if the topics or issues you want to discuss require multiple people in the same room at the same time. Often, you can accomplish what you’d dedicate a meeting for with a quick phone call or email. For example, if your company is working on several projects, you don’t need to gather the managers of those projects into a room together to give you updates. It’s much more efficient for managers to send you a weekly email with updates.
What to Do Instead of Meetings
Many alternatives to the traditional meeting exist. As technology makes it easier and easier to keep in touch, more and more alternatives will appear. Using email and having people send you status reports and updates is one option for replacing meetings, but it has the potential of becoming its own problem. Feeling the need to constantly check email or fielding replies that simply read “OK” or “thanks” can also eat into your team’s productivity.
Another alternative to meetings it to schedule short (5 to 10 minute) calls or video conferences with individuals. During those calls, ask the person to give you any updates but keep the chit-chat and conversation short. Calls or video conferences are preferable to meetings not only because they are potentially much shorter, but also because they eliminate the need to pack up your papers and move to another room. You can stay in your office and return immediately to your work once the call is over.
For ongoing projects, one alternative to regular meetings is to use messaging or chat services like Slack or Google Hangouts. Instead of bringing everyone into the same room once a week, people can open the chat service and check in with each other with any updates or questions they have.
Improve the Meetings You Do Hold
Although you can find alternative ways to communicate instead of a meeting in a lot of cases, sometimes, meetings are unavoidable. Setting some ground rules can help you get the most out of the meetings you do have to have and can help you avoid wasting your time and everyone else’s. For example, never hold a meeting without an agenda. If the person organizing the meeting doesn’t send out an agenda at least a day before the meeting, ask them to reschedule it.
It can also be useful to have a policy for lateness. Agree that if the person who called the meeting doesn’t show up within five minutes of its start time, the meeting will be canceled. It’s not fair to your team to make them wait around for 15, 30 or even 60 minutes.
Meetings can really eat into your company’s productivity and affect its ability to grow. To learn more about how to make the most of your team’s time and avoid pointless meetings, contact New Direction Capital today.
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