Ask any office worker what they hate the most about their work and meetings will be near the top of their list. Too many meetings. Meetings that are too long. Meetings that are meandering and pointless. Meetings involving too many people.
While most of us would agree that many of the meetings we attend are wasteful, we continue to book them. We are addicted to meetings. And really, meetings themselves are not the issue, it’s the way we run them that’s the problem. Meetings done right can be productive and efficient. They can add value to our work rather than taking away from it.
If you want to remove worthless meetings from your workday, answer these three questions before you book your next one.
1. Can this meeting be accomplished by a well-written email?
Too often we are part of meetings that do nothing but pass along information. If your meeting is simply about transferring information, updating or notifying people or assigning tasks, don’t waste time by organizing a meeting. Instead, take the time to write a thorough email covering off the details and send it. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting through a meeting that could have been a two-minute email. Remember, a one-hour meeting isn’t just one hour, it’s one hour x the number of people involved.
2. Do you have a clear goal?
A meeting should accomplish something. People find so many meetings meaningless because all they accomplish is eating up time. Before scheduling a meeting, you should have a clear objective you want to achieve through the meeting. If you don’t have a goal to reach, take some time to consider why you are having the meeting in the first place.
3. Are the right people there?
When it comes to meetings, the more is not the merrier. Meetings should only involve the people necessary in achieving the intended goal of the meeting. Some companies have even gone the route of making all meetings voluntary. If you’ve created a detailed agenda and outlined your objectives, people can decide if it is necessary for them to be there and/or the best use of their time. This way people scheduling meetings must prove the value of their meetings if they want people to attend.
Meetings are never going away. They are a necessary evil. However, if you follow these three guidelines, we can start making them useful again.
A Team Human Conversation
Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.
On a scale of 1-10, on average, how productive and useful are the meetings you attend?
What do you feel makes meetings unproductive?
When you attend well-run meetings, what makes them so?