Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.
As we look forward to a new year, consider letting 2016 be the year you change your approach to meetings.
By far, meetings are the biggest time waster in most organizations. They cause more angst for staff than anything else for a couple of reasons. First, there are just too many, and second, there is frequently little value to those in attendance. Additionally, Generation Y folks hate meetings, so you need to reduce the number and frequency if you are going to retain that generation of workers.
I cannot tell you how many times I have said, “What a waste of time that was!” after attending a meeting. Every employee’s time is valuable, as is yours. You must use both yours and your employees’ time wisely if you are to get the highest value for your organization.
Before calling a meeting, ask yourself if the expense would be warranted if everyone was paid $100 an hour. So often, when you consider the cost of pulling everyone away from the jobs they should be focused on, you will decide not to have a meeting.
If the only purpose is to transfer or share information, a meeting is not going to be the most valuable use of your time. Sure you want everyone to know what is going on, but distributing a summary document is much more effective.
When you are invited to a meeting, sometimes you can tell if you need to attend just by asking the question, “If I do not attend, will the meeting have to be rescheduled?” If the answer is no, you probably do not have to attend.
Related Article: How Effective Meetings Will Save You Money
When meetings are necessary, you must be cognizant of the time. Long meetings are just awful. Not only are they boring, but there is only so long you can hold people’s attention. Eventually, they start checking their phones. The best rule of thumb is to stick to an hour maximum. Once you set an end time, be sure to keep to that schedule to avoid losing credibility.
One way you can ensure your meetings are quick and to the point is to hold “stand-up meetings” because people do not like to stand for very long. The Ritz-Carlton holds a stand-up staff meeting every morning. They are a quick and effective way to cover the day’s most pressing issues.
To ensure your meetings are productive, you must get everyone involved. Brainstorming is a good method of doing this, and it is important to get everyone’s input. If everyone is not participating, I like to go around the table and ask each person for their thoughts. This gets me the buy-in I am looking for and ensures everyone is engaged in the discussion.
Finally, you can keep your meetings from become a drudgery by bringing in some humor. Ask people to share a “clean” joke or the funniest thing that has happened to them in the last two weeks. You really do get some pretty weird responses, but it is always fun.
Now go out and make sure that your meetings are short and focused. And always ask yourself if a meeting is necessary before calling one.
You can do this!