For anyone in a management position, meetings can be a major bugbear.
Why? They’ve got a bad reputation for being time-wasters. Meetings were once about getting all decision makers into the same room to rap out a solution, or quickly communicating key messaging. Now, their boundaries have loosened and become vague (think brainstorming sessions with no outcome and daily catch-ups with every team member).
One study into how an organisation uses its time found that many hours are spent wasted in unproductive meetings. The amount of meetings being taken has risen (thanks to telecomm technology making connecting easier), and senior executives were found to be spending more than 40% of their week in or planning meetings.
One organisation was found to be spending the equivalent of $15m a year on a single, weekly meeting of midlevel managers.
Want to work out how much meetings are costing your business? The Harvard Business Review has created a calculator tool that allows you to estimate an at-a-glance costing of your meeting.
Go to the link, insert the duration of the meeting, how many employees are attending and the rough salary of each employee (you’ll need to think in dollars).
It’s a simple calculation, working out hourly worth and collating the totals, but it may make you rethink adding that extra employee who maybe doesn’t need to attend.
How do I improve our meetings?
It’s time to reinstate the formality of meetings. This isn’t about everyone wearing a suit and addressing each other by surname, but more about solidifying your meeting structure.
Have a personal agenda – know what you’re looking to accomplish by the end of the meeting. Don’t feel obliged to talk for two hours just because you have a room booked for two hours. If you meet your premeditated accomplishment early, then you can wrap it up. If you haven’t achieved this, you know you have a bigger project on your hands.
To keep everyone on the same page, make a shared agenda that’s circulated beforehand and can act as your meeting schedule. Tick off each item, and then consider sending minutes after so all in attendance know what action is taking place as a result of your discussions.
Finally, you may want to learn of Parkinson’s Law, which dictates that work will expand to fill the time you allot to it. Take a tip from this and make your meeting shorter – only allow half an hour if you traditionally allot one hour, and you’ll probably be surprised by what you can achieve.