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  • Kick Ass Zombie Hunter

Meetings Aren’t the Problem

A skeleton sitting at a computer.

There has been much focus lately on reducing the number of workplace meetings.

This is not a surprise.


Meetings have long been the bane of the work world. Yet, despite what appears to be a universal dislike, their numbers only seem to be increasing.


This flies in the face of what science tells us is the most effective way of working.


New research shows that a reduction in meetings (as much as 80% to 100%) impacts almost everything, with significant increases in engagement, autonomy, satisfaction, productivity, and cooperation, and large reductions in stress and micromanagement.


So, why are meetings still happening?


Meetings are not the problem.


They are a symptom.


To rid yourself and your team of meetings, you need to get to the root of why meetings are happening in the first place.


Here are some common root causes for meetings:


Unclear Directions

When employees don’t have clear directions for tasks or projects and there is a lack of written communication, this will increase the need for people to double-check or confirm information. It also leads to a lack of certainty on what needs to be accomplished and increases people’s need for reassurance.


Distrust

Micromanagement often results from a lack of trust in employees, and it breeds meetings. It also kills engagement and reduces employees’ sense of autonomy.


Poor Decision-Making

When decisions are not being made in the meetings you are having, this leads to more meetings. Ensure your meetings are effective. Don’t allow meetings to start without an obvious purpose and don’t allow them to end without clear next steps.


Employees Not Empowered

When employees don’t feel permitted to make their own decisions this leads to unnecessary meetings. Make sure employees know they are encouraged and expected to make decisions. If employees have been punished for doing so in the past, this may require additional support and conversations to increase their comfort and reduce any wariness.


Too many People are Invited

Keep your guest list exclusive; only invite those people necessary to accomplish the purpose of your meeting. Make it acceptable and normal for people to say no to meetings they don’t think they will add value to or need to be in.


Overdependency for Collaboration

Meetings are often seen as the only way to work together and collaborate with other people. Start maximizing and encouraging the use of technology like Slack or Teams. Status updates and progress reports can be done using these same tools or by using dashboards. Even brainstorming can be jumpstarted using tools like Mural and Google Forms in advance to gather ideas and suggestions and reduce time spent in a later meeting.


Before you schedule your next meeting, ask yourself:


Does this meeting add value?


Can it be accomplished another way?


Do people want this meeting?


Will it help or hinder people?


Is it the result of something we need to do better upfront?


Meetings can be a useful tool, but only when used responsibly.

 

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.

  1. Do you feel like you have too many meetings, too few, or just the right amount?

  2. What impact does too many meetings have on you and your work?

  3. Are there things you could be doing as a team to eliminate the number of meetings you have?

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