Do you know you are probably paying your people to sit too long in meetings!
While they are sitting there, they are not producing.
Did you know that “senior executives now spend 28 hours per week in meetings”? This is more than half of a 50-hour work week! Ask yourself, how many of those 28 hours really need to be spent in meetings?
The question trickles down to your other employees as well. Are they sitting through 2-3-hour sales or project meetings every morning, reporting and simply catching up? Not really delivering innovation. And you wonder why productivity levels are down in your your.
Not only do these meetings take up valuable time, but they also suck the energy right out of your teams. Your people may come to work in the morning all fired up and ready to perform their best for the organisation, but after sitting through a 2-hour 8am meeting of listening to a supervisor drone on about numbers that don’t directly affect their job, even a third cup of coffee will not restore their earlier energy.
What can we do to fix this?
Reduce the number of people attending most meetings.
Of course, you have to have department-wide meetings, but they should be limited to once a week or twice per month. Company-wide meetings should be once a month or quarterly at most unless there is a crisis. Daily meetings should be limited to the people who actually need to be there. The smaller the meeting, the more specific it can be, allowing problems to be focused on and dealt with more effectively. Moreover, you will not be forcing your people to sit through long meetings that don’t directly affect their job responsibilities. One executive, Jeff Bezos, has created a “two-pizza rule.” If he has to order more than two pizzas to feed everyone in the meeting, there are too many people there. Not a bad guideline to keep in mind.
Make your meetings as efficient as you are.
This means planning out exactly what will be covered during the meeting and deciding what actions you want to come out of it. This is what you do for yourself: You plan out your daily schedule with specific goals in mind. In the same way, write out an agenda for the meeting and email it at least a day ahead to those who need to be there. This will give them time to collect any pertinent documents and reports. They will also be able to think through their own questions and suggestions. During the meeting, make sure that you stick with the agenda. If the discussion gets off topic, have a whiteboard or blank flipchart handy to write these side topics down for a later meeting, ( I call this my parking lot) and then get right back to the agenda.
Set a time limit. Always start and end on time.
That way your people can plan their day around the meeting, and you will not be cutting into the time they had blocked out for other tasks, like calling back clients. Almost every company has a department head or executive who loves to hear him or herself talk. If you notice that the meeting monitor is monopolizing or distracting the conversation, pull him or her aside and re-emphasize your goal of slashing meeting length.
Make sure that you accomplish your meeting objectives.
Leaving a meeting open ended without assigning specific tasks to your people leaves them feeling like the meeting was a big waste of time—and it was. They will be annoyed or frustrated that they lost two hours of precious time during which they could have been a lot more productive. By assigning tasks to accomplish the objectives, you empower your employees to see how they can make a difference by doing those tasks. This positive motivation will improve your business efficiency and productivity.
In my business I have a weekly BPR – Business Project Review Meeting – on a Monday morning. Its 60-90 minutes max. Each Project Lead has a specific time to deliver a succinct status report and updates. No fluffs just direct facts and figures – what was accomplished in the past week, new objectives for upcoming week, major challenges. Any issue requiring more in-depth consideration would be taken in a Special Attention Review Meeting (SAR) immediately after that meeting or some other time but with only those members of the team needed. Our meetings are based on business realities and data, no politics and personalities. This has been very productive for us and we can see the benefits.
Deciding how frequent and how long your meetings should be is a balancing act. You have to weigh the importance of the information dispensed at any particular meeting against the time taken from employee productivity. Be flexible, but always use the above guidelines as a measuring stick.
So here are my usually weekly actions questions for you – How efficient and effective are your company’s daily meetings? Would applying some of the above suggestions help to improve productivity?
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