“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.”
While Dave Barry might have been joking when he made this claim, he’s not so far off the mark. According to Business Insider, the 11 million meetings held daily in the U.S. cost companies over $37 billion in lost productivity. The takeaway is clear: meetings can be a giant drain on your resources. But they don’t have to be. These four efficiency-enhancing techniques help boost productivity and better your bottom line.
1. Cut Back
The average professional attends 62 meetings every month. Even worse? More than 50 percent of these meetings are deemed to be a waste of time. The solution may be simpler than you think: cut back.
Before scheduling a meeting, consider whether there are better alternatives, such as regular one-on-one sessions with direct reports. No only do fewer group meetings minimize wasted time, but they also conserve human capital. A few words to live by from Google CEO Larry Page: Not all decisions require a meeting.
But increasing efficiency doesn’t just mean trimming down on the number of meetings; it also means trimming down on the number of people. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is famous for the “Two Pizza Rule,” which insists that any meeting involving more attendees than can consume two pizza pies results in slower decision making and an excess of creativity-stifling groupthink.
2. Manage Expectations
Everyone’s ideas about meetings are different. The sad truth is that many employees don’t even know what a “good” meeting is because they’ve never experienced one! The task at hand: get everyone on the same page in terms of expectations. After all, a brainstorming session serves a very different purpose than an informational gathering.
Managing expectations not only streamlines the process, but also reduces employee dissatisfaction. To further expedite meetings, designate a facilitator to curtail tangents and keep things on track.
3. Measure Tasks, Not Time
Do you make decisions in half-hour or hourly increments? Probably not. But most meetings are scheduled according to these precise time constraints. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is well-known for her rigorous adhesion to agendas, along with tracking of future discussion points and action items. Follow her example and share an itemized agenda with all participants in advance. In addition to keeping them informed, this also helps them be prepared.
Conclude your meeting as soon as all agenda items are resolved. If this happens 12 minutes into a 45 minute meeting, everyone leaves with a sense of accomplishment….and clearly defined action items.
4. Etiquette Matters
We’ve all sat through meetings that started late, but that’s not the only productivity-plaguing problem. Consider these eye-opening statistics::
- 91 percent of professionals admit to daydreaming during meetings
- 96 percent of professionals admit to missing some or all of meetings
- 73 percent of professionals have brought other work to meetings
- 39 percent of professionals have napped during meetings
These behaviors cause tension between coworkers while also driving down performance. Establish and enforce basic guidelines for etiquette, with eating (and sleeping!) during meetings, using your phone, and arriving late topping the list of no-nos.
The current business landscape moves faster than ever with little time for squandering time, energy and money on inefficiencies. These four tips can help minimize wastefulness and maximize results at your next meeting.
For additional increases in efficiency, consider automated messaging from One Call Now. With one message you can reach all of your employees quickly with a voice call, text message, email, push notification. Choose one channel or all four in the event of an emergency. Click here to learn more about One Call Now’s employee communication solution.
To learn more, check out our article, Crisis Leadership and Emergency Response.
http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-jeff-bezos-meeting-tricks-2014-11 http://www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingbasics/meetstate.asp http://bps-occupational-digest.blogspot.com/2013/11/not-getting-much-out-of-meetings-you.html A network MCI Conferencing White Paper. Meetings in America: A study of trends, costs and attitudes toward business travel, teleconferencing, and their impact on productivity (Greenwich, CT: INFOCOMM, 1998) Robert B. Nelson and Peter Economy, Better Business Meetings (Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin Inc, 1995) A network MCI Conferencing White Paper, Meetings in America: A study of trends, costs and attitudes toward business travel, teleconferencing, and their impact on productivity (Greenwich, CT: INFOCOMM, 1998)