“This should have been an email” is a phrase that most professionals have likely thought at some point in their careers—or last week.
Research suggests that “of the 23 hours that executives spend in meetings each week, on average, eight are unproductive. Some 90% of people report daydreaming in meetings, and 73% admit that they use meeting time to do other work”.
In particular, virtual meetings disrupt workflow and eat up big chunks of time. One survey on why meetings stink found that 79% of respondents “said that meetings they initiated were extremely or very productive [while] only 56% said the same about meetings initiated by others—clear evidence of an ‘I’m not the problem’ attitude”.
Being conscientious when planning and hosting better team meetings shows your employees that you value their time and care about their engagement. Not to mention that wasted time is wasted money, with ineffective meetings wasting approximately $37 billion a year.
Want to learn how you can lead or encourage better team meetings? Continue reading.
Having some general guidelines for effective meetings will ensure that meetings don’t feel like a waste of time.
The following are some factors to keep in mind for your next meeting, courtesy of Alison Green of Ask a Manager:
- Know when a meeting is necessary (and when it isn’t). Your first question should be: is this information going to be useful for everyone attending? Consider the function/purpose you want your meetings to have. If you don’t have that, don’t book a meeting. Make it an email instead.
- Meeting agendas and prep work: Do you send meeting agendas for all meetings or only certain types of meetings? How do you prepare for each meeting? Preparation should address your goals for the meeting and how you’re going to best achieve them.
- Timing: Stick to schedules and don’t go into overtime. However, it’s perfectly fine if you finish a meeting earlier than expected as people are always happy to get time back into their day.
In order to have better team meetings, leaders must reflect on what they themselves do and don’t do well in meetings.
Harvard Business Review recommends that you take time to reflect and “[a]sk yourself: Were people distracted? Conducting side conversations? Consider who did most of the talking. Was it you? One or two other people? Did the discussion stray to irrelevant topics? Were all the opinions and ideas that were expressed fairly similar?”.
If the answer was yes to any of the questions, you’ll need to address it. It’s also important to take note of what went well during the meeting and what topics and strategies seemed to get employees excited.
It’s essential that employees feel engaged in meetings, as they are more likely to enjoy and connect with the content if they’re actively participating.
You can ask employees for feedback in one 1:1s, emails, or through your performance management software. Their feedback should answer questions such as:
- Do you find the content of our meetings valuable?
- What would you do differently if you were running a meeting?
- Would you like to participate in meetings more? Or do you prefer to just listen?
This kind of feedback should give you an idea of how your employees view meetings and give you the knowledge you need to have better team meetings.
Remember, meetings are an essential part of work… but not all meetings are essential.