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The Efficient Workplace: 5 Tips for Better Meetings (Part 2)

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