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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