Better meetings…the ongoing quest
April 16, 2019 by Sara Redman
Workplace meetings are often ineffective, too long, not focused and as a result extremely costly for organisations. Is this true from your experience?
The statistics on meeting efficiencies may or may not surprise you. In 2017, leaders were spending an average of 23 hours a week in meetings – it was less than 10 hours a week in the 1960s! Leaders considered more than 67% of meeting to be failures. This doesn’t even include impromptu gatherings and catch ups.
At SRA we find that leaders can be spending over 50% of their time in meetings and sometimes even as high as 70%! Depending on the role, this can make it almost impossible to be successful in leading, realising strategy and getting the key work done!
We all need to be disciplined to keep our meetings productive, focused, and useful. SRA deliver workshops on running better meetings because we believe it is a fundamental aspect of both exceptional workplace culture AND powerful leadership impact.
The key is to be vigilant. Make sure you check in on your meeting effectiveness frequently (at least every 3-6 months) considering the following fundamental questions:
What is the purpose of the meeting? Simple question but often not clarified and communicated. Is it a brainstorming meeting, a decision-making meeting, an information-sharing meeting? Can it be achieved in another way? Almost every organisation has an information-sharing meeting that can be reduced and distributed in another more effective manner offline for example.
Who needs to be in attendance? Often we are invited to a meeting but not sure why. It is important to check the reason for our requested attendance. Then consider options – can someone else attend for you? Can you provide a written input? Can you come in for a portion to make the decision, a short presentation or have a focused discussion rather than the whole meeting? Giving permission to your whole team to check this can dramatically improve your meeting effectiveness.
Are we meeting for the right amount of time? Often time gets sucked up in meetings that go for too long just simply because it’s in the diary. Default meeting duration is often an hour – change it to 45 mins or even 30 mins and see what happens. You will find your optimal default meeting time and step up on your focus when you tighten up the time.
As a leader, one of the greatest things you can improve in just a matter of a few weeks is increasing the effectiveness of your meetings. We all have a limited reservoir of time and attention that we want to be ‘spending’ on the high priority work predominantly. When you find ways to sharpen the way your time and attention are spent, as well as empower others to do the same, you will be delighted with the renewed energy, focus and output that will result!