Meeting Management 101: How To Stop The Time Suck
By Pam Neely
I have yet to meet anyone who wants to spend more time in meetings. They are pretty much universally disliked. We all want to spend less time in meetings, and we’d all like the meetings we can’t get out of to be far more productive. But how often does that happen? How often do companies, departments or even small teams figure out a way to cut the time they spend in meetings?
It’s tempting to say “almost never”, but that’s actually not true. Some companies and individuals have pulled off the impossible. Some teams manage to stay in communication and coordinate their work well – without losing a third of their time to the conference room.
Here are some of the ways they’ve done it.
Kill status meetings
As you know, there are different types of meetings. There are big company announcement meetings, department coordination meetings, planning meetings – the list goes on. But of all the different options, status meetings are the most loathed.
Why? It’s simple: They’re time wasters. Gathering everyone together in a room to explain what they’re doing for the week sounds like a great idea, but plenty of things can go wrong:
- People can talk over their allotted time, “hijacking” the meeting while they either get caught up in enthusiasm over their current project, or they see an opportunity to promote their work and make themselves seem more important.
- People get into side conversations, and everyone ends up listening to these digressions, whether it’s related to their work or not. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these side conversations – they’re important, and should happen. But everyone doesn’t need to hear them.
- Some people tune out during status meetings. They might be physically in the room, but their heads are anywhere but. Often, it’s because they’ve got pressing deadlines or urgent work that needs attention. So they ignore what’s said in the status meeting.
Those are all good reasons to cut status meetings, but they’re not the best reason. The best reason is because status meetings simply aren’t necessary. We have the technology now, you know. So it’s pretty easy to set up a status sheet where everyone can write in their spiel about what they’re working on. Their co-workers can check this status sheet at the start of their day and get the necessary download within 10 minutes, max. That immediately frees up 50 minutes of their time.
To get an idea of how significant it could be to kill your status meetings, consider this: If you’ve got ten employees in a department, each of them would save 50 minutes once a week by cutting the status meeting.
Over the course of a year (48 weeks, giving time for vacations and holidays), that works out to 400 hours. That’s over two months of free time for one person. Just cutting the status meeting means your team could probably handle one large (and high-impact) project every year.
If that calculation got your attention, you’ll love this little New Research on What Really Works for Improving Productivity
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