Soft Skills: Your Meetings Are Killing Your Company
Updated: Oct 23
et's be honest - Most of the meetings that occur in your company every single day are not effective. They waste time. They waste money. No decisions occur. There is no follow up after the meetings.
Simply put: YOUR MEETINGS ARE KILLING YOUR COMPANY.
Let's focus on ways to fix it.
Your Meetings Suck
We want you to follow these steps:
1) Grab a Kleenex
2) Open up your calendar
3) Count how many meetings you have this week.
4) Wipe your tears away
If you're anything like a lot of our clients, you might have 4-10 meetings a day, which results in something like 20-50 meetings a week. Some are a half an hour. Some are an hour. Some last even longer. And, if you're like most companies we've actually worked for, you have meetings ALL f*cking day.
Let's do something fun.
Let's just look for a average number of meetings you might have in a week - we'll call it 40 meetings a week.
Some of those meetings might be 15 minute stand-ups, others might be hour long status meetings - let's calculate an average. We'll say that every meeting is just a half an hour.
40 meetings at 1/2 hour = 20 hours a week spent on meetings. (I know most of you are saying "20 hours a week on meetings? I WISH!" - still, we need a starting place).
Let's go further with our calculation and look at it on a yearly level.
20 hours a week x 52 weeks a year = 1,040 hours a year you spend in meetings.
I love math. From a corporate cost perspective, let's say that you COST the company $50/hour.
1,040 x $50/h = $52,000 a year.
OK, we have a number we can work from.
Now imagine this: if your meetings had just a 20% efficiency gain, you could save your company $10,400 a year in time. Get that same efficiency across your company of a 1,000 people and you could save $10.4M!!!
So how do you it? It's not rocket surgery. (and, yes, we said it like that on purpose)
Tips for Efficient Meetings
We know, in most companies an"efficient meeting" is an oxymoron. Yes, AND we promise, there are easy things that can be done to FIX this.
Note: We're focused right now on face-to-face meetings, and honestly all of the items below apply to video conferencing and conference calls. That said, there are some additional things to consider with remote meetings which you can read about here.
Here's The ExperienceYes Meeting Process flow diagram to get you started (and laugh a little).
And some additional comments:
Get your leadership on board with changing your meeting framework and cadence. Honestly, if your leadership isn't bought in to establishing a new method of working together, then any changes to how you run your meetings will fail.
Use a FINANCIAL argument - "We are wasting $xxx each week/month/year in time if we don't fix it. (Leaders are more likely to get on board if you start with DATA)
Determine whether you actually need a meeting.
Can you send an email?
Will people read it?
If you do need a meeting, determine the RIGHT people who need to be in the meeting.
Anything over 10 is a conference - it's not a meeting.
Figure out your agenda and PUBLISH it before the meeting.
Establish the POP! framework to run your meetings: Purpose, Outcome, Process.
Define clear roles for the meeting.
Facilitator, Timekeeper, Note-taker.
The note-taker isn't there to just take notes - they are looking for document DECISIONS and TO-DOs.
Rotate these roles from meeting to meeting.
Start on time and end early.
A 30 minute meeting should end at 25 minutes. A 60 minute minute should end at 50 minutes.
Use a parking lot.
When issues come up that can't be resolved, put them in a parking lot to discuss later.
When action items come up assign the to-do to a specific person along with a due date.
Always have a due date. Always.
Send out notes at the end of your meeting.
Your Note-taker role is responsible for sending out meeting minutes, to-dos, and due dates.
Re-cap what decisions were made and what open items there are.
This can be useful to ensure people have gotten things done.
HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE.
We can't stress this one enough. This comes from both your leadership and your peers. If you want change, then people have to embrace the change and do the work.
Bruce T. Montgomery
Author: Terror in the Desert
ExperienceYes focuses on corporate innovation, culture and leadership development by leveraging the neuroscience behind improvisation and creativity.
Soft Skills. Hard Results.