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In our last post, we talked a bit about one of the most talked about and least favorite aspects of a workplace: meetings. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're more often an opportunity to see coworkers face-to-face than they are productive discussion.

If all meetings were efficient and purposeful, it wouldn't matter that managers spend between 35% and 50% of their time attending and running them, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  In a Harvard Business Review study of 182 senior managers, 54% said meetings at their organization were too frequent, poorly timed, and badly run, wasting time for groups as well as individuals.

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Rethinking a company's approach to meetings has been shown to boost collaboration and improve employees' positive perception of their work/life balance (from 62% to 92%). We've gathered more tips for you to take to your team check-ins and keep your people satisfied.

Determine actionable steps.

Stay true to the meeting's intentions and leave the room with tasks delegated and decisions made. There's no reason to gather five people at a table to say "we'll decide that later." Keep track of who is help responsible for which items, and hold them accountable for the next steps. Follow the S.M.A.R.T.  guidelines: each action item must be (1) Specific, (2) Measurable, (3) Agreed Upon, (4) Realistic and (5) Time-based. Everyone knows who is doing what. Sending a follow up email to review the next course of action can also be a great way to maintain efficiency, but don't bother if there have been no tasks assigned.

Make 30 minutes the norm.

Many meeting invites default to a 60-minute time period, so guess how long most meetings take? With a whole hour blocked off, why would anyone bother to keep their statements short and direct, and their questions limited? Time spent collaborating and sharing information will take up as much space as you give it, so do everyone a favor and cut that space in half.  You'll likely find attendees are more eager to participate and less likely to get distracted (or even drift off) if the end is in sight.

Keep everyone engaged.

An astonishing 92% of people report multitasking during meetings, either checking emails or doing other unrelated work. Knowing a meeting will go long or won't require participation keep employees from bothering to engage. If people are phoning in, have them video chat instead. In-person attendees should entertain the idea of conference rooms being tech-free zones. Keeping the distractions to a minimum will keep an agenda moving along.

Try collaboration software.

Many team-wide check-ins fall into a few categories: status updates, information sharing, or collaboration. Technological advances have made it easier to work and connect with remote workers or cross-country sans-meetings, so why not try a similar system with your in-office employees? Cross-departmental communication doesn't have to be verbal or emailed when there are options for realtime updated project management like Slack or Trello. You avoid time spent preparing updates or reports when coworkers can clearly see the progress being made or the timeline involved.

Don't plan other meetings while in one. 

If it is a regular group that needs to connect again in the future, feel free to eliminate a pesky email and nail down a date and time, but if only a portion of the team needs to attend. If there is anyone at the table who does not need to be a part of that conversation, have it elsewhere.

A bonus tip: try a standing meeting. It'll stay short and sweet, and you'll get a little break from the computer hunchback.

Posted: 11/28/2018 8:36:45 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


It's commonly known that Americans are workaholics. We leave the office late, check emails on weekends, and even eat lunch while reviewing spreadsheets. We claim this is due to our desire for productivity and commitment to a company, but what if the reason is much simpler? There are everyday occurrences that displace our normal workload, leaving us with hours and hours of work to complete and not enough time in a day. The culprit? MEETINGS.

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Easily one of the most disliked parts of a person's job, meetings steal away valuable hours of worktime each week. In a Harvard Business Review survey among senior managers, 71% of them found meetings to be unproductive and inefficient, with a large portion of those managers (62%) saying they're also a missed opportunity to bring their teams closer together. If nobody finds them useful, what's the point?

We all know meetings aren't going away anytime soon – teams still need to be updated on projects statuses, and consensus must be reached on big decisions, but there are definite solutions to some of everyone's most common problems with meetings. We'll cover some here and finish up in our next post!

Send out an agenda.

Planning what you will discuss does two things: first, it prepares your team for the material to be covered, and second, it keeps you on task. If you and everyone in the room knows the time is half up and you've only gotten through 3 of 10 items, you won't dawdle for the remainder of the meeting. Plus, someone is less likely to bring up an unconnected project if they know it's not intended to be discussed.

Prepare materials ahead of time

Will there be a presentation? Send out the file prior to the actual meeting, giving people time to familiarize themselves with the material covered, and suggest they present any clarification questions beforehand. Day-of, refrain from an actual word-for-word dictation of your previously prepared presentation, and keep your employees engaged by asking questions and prompting discussion.

Pare down the attendee list.

Have you made sure to include only the essential people in this meeting? Being invited to a meeting you aren't needed for is just like being CCed on an email, except it wastes actual time and often can be avoided. Jeff Bezos famously adopted a Two Pizza Rule, which means he only attends meetings where two pizzas could feed the entire group. Any more than that, and you're in inefficient territory.

Divert longer discussion into follow up emails or meetings.

Keep it moving – a few minutes of friendly chatter is fine to warm up the room, but any sidetracking later on is detrimental to the focus and efficiency of the meeting. With certain teams, it can be tempting to let the team go in the direction that happens naturally, but trust us, your employees will thank you later for not letting the room get out of control.

Work with meeting blocks. 

"Deep thinking," or the time spent at work undistracted and uninterrupted, is too often cut short by low-value tasks like checking email or attending meetings. Plus, a person often halts their productivity at a good stopping point, regardless of how much time is left until a meeting begins.  Think about it – the ten minutes before a meeting is often spent preparing to sit in a room without coffee or a restroom for an hour, or killing time for a few mins rather than moving forward with a project (without having a large stretch of time to dedicate to it). Employees may even be gathering materials for the upcoming meeting – they spend up to 4 hours per week preparing for status update meetings (that's 10% of their workweek)!

Try limiting meetings to a specific time block each day or week, giving your team an expectation of solid work time outside of that block. They will likely be more productive without having to plan around constant work breaks throughout the day, and can easily transition from productivity mode to collaboration and discussion mode.

More tips coming in our next post!

Posted: 11/14/2018 12:37:53 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


You're an ambitious person. You work hard, you spend time developing your skills, learning new programs, keeping up with the latest and greatest, and you've made a living as an employee who is adaptable and experienced enough in several different areas. A jack of many trades, master of several.

But what comes next?

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For many people, the next step in their career is a clear cut path. There is a job they want and they work their way straight towards it over time, snowballing skills and experiences that will set them up to reach that position they've been aiming for for years. More established companies often make the path known, with their organization charts acting as a rough guide to getting the job you eventually want. It's simple: work your way up the chain.

But what if you don't know what you want? With the expansion of the tech industry and the explosion of jobs in brand new industries, the journey to a higher level isn't the straight line it used to be. Many skill sets overlap so feeling adequate in marketing and design, for example, doesn't solidify a strong path towards one over the other.

We very often try to move very quickly from one thing to the next, but this is one time when it's worth it to go a little slower. So many possibilities can be overwhelming, so take a deeper look before jumping into something new. Here are some tips to get you started.

Determine your must-haves.

Decide what you'll need to be satisfied in your next job. For example, maybe you have got to be close to a city, must interact with many people throughout the day, and have to be creative stimulated. Or perhaps you want to be managing people. Extracting the parts of a position that you'd consider "essential" will help hone in on a solid next step.

Talk to colleagues.

If you aren't sure which way to go next, why not start by identifying your strengths? Get an unbiased opinion from friends and coworkers, asking them what qualities you have that they'd consider exemplary and that should be fostered in a professional setting. They may mention something you hadn't realized about yourself.

Get some ideas.

Look to someone who has your dream job. There's a good chance the path through their previous professional experiences is much more winding than you'd expect, so take a look through it. If you don't quite know what opportunities can come next, studying the prior positions of others who have can be a very useful guide map.

Think small.

You don't need to get your dream job right now. Take the pressure off your next move and focus on finding some immediate skills you'd like to develop, then search for a job that will expand on those skills. Eventually

Talk to someone who does this for a living.

*Stares at you, grinning* HI. We have placed candidates in hundreds of jobs. We've seen the skill sets and talent that go into different types and levels of positions, and who knows, maybe we can help you out. We've certainly seen our fair share of job seekers AND companies with room to grow.

At the end of the day just remember, there's a perk to not having a "dream job" in mind – you can't be disappointed! Going into your next position with open arms and a positive attitude means you're sure to work your way into an area that could become your dream job.

Posted: 11/8/2018 3:17:10 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments