Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and thinking to yourself, “Why am I here?” As it turns out, you may not be the only one. A Harvard study surveyed 182 senior managers in a wide range of industries with the following results:
65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work.
71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.
The study further shows that how workers feel about the effectiveness of meetings directly correlates with their general satisfaction with their jobs.
How do we identify ineffective meeting culture?
Inefficient meetings cause professionals to lose about 30 hours of productivity every month. How can you identify if your company has an inefficient meeting culture? Here are some of the most common practices that would indicate that.
Employees at the meeting talk in circles and never come up with a decision. Maybe you have a meeting-heavy environment which can also keep people from making even easy decisions until they meet with the whole group.
At the start of each meeting you wait around for someone to speak up and kick things off.
Everyone is always invited to meetings when only 3 or 4 people would have done the trick.
Too Many Meetings
The entire day is running from one meeting to another but you feel like you got nothing accomplished during your 8+ hours there.
Meetings Are Too Long
Having to catch up with work after meetings that were 2+ hours long and feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day. This could leak into your private life if you have to sacrifice your free time to catch up regularly.
How do we start moving in the right direction?
Once you realize that your company is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, what can you do to get yourself and your company on the right track? Changing company culture is no easy task, but at the very least you can start the conversation. The guidelines for meetings provided below are going to be a great start.
Meet only if you absolutely have to
This one is a difficult undertaking at first and will take some practice. However, once you get the hang of it you will start to make more decisions individually, where appropriate, without having to take up the time of your colleagues.
Make sure the agenda and invites make sense
Take some time to create an agenda for your meetings. Through creating an agenda you will understand what questions/topics will come up and you will find it more obvious to invite the appropriate people. The agenda will also help people look into what will be discussed before the meeting and help them come prepared.
Assign a moderator
This moderator will usually keep the meeting within scope, make sure time is managed well, and keep the meeting focused on the pre-planned agenda items. This person should also arrive early and test to make sure all presentation technology is prepared for when everyone else arrives.
Consider shorter meetings
When you define your agenda you should put a lot of consideration into how long to make your meetings. It is generally better to veer to the short side. This will ensure your agenda is to the point and that you are not wasting time.
Maintain a spirit of collaboration, active contribution, and solution orientation
It is important to hear everyone out and come to a consensus while using your best social mannerism. Eye contact, tone/attitude, and posture are a few things to consider.
Wrap up meetings with clear action items, deliverables and timeline
You want everyone to leave the meeting as close to on the same page as possible. If there are action items, document and assign clearly to the proper individuals with the timelines attached.
The hardest part of this whole process is getting started. It could be difficult to reach out to someone in your company and suggest some of these steps, depending on your company culture. It may be helpful to talk to your coworkers and find out how they feel before moving ahead. If you find your coworkers’ thoughts are reflecting some of your own, you can work together to help everyone improve. Once you start following these guidelines, you should notice your productivity in and out of meetings going up.