According to a recent survey by global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, more than 67% of respondents said they spend too much time in meetings and on calls, negatively impacting work and productivity. More than 34% stated they waste between two to five hours weekly on calls or meetings that accomplish nothing. Additionally, 35% also revealed that they would attend a meeting that they know will not be productive rather than decline the meeting’s invitation. And, in a virtual world, many of us are meeting more so that we feel more connected to faraway colleagues.
When work meetings are successful run, they can:
- Help employees make big decisions.
- Unite a team or company by cultivating a shared sense of purpose.
- Serve as a constructive platform for collaboration and feedback.
- Foster a safe place for personal and professional growth.
- Function as an open space to increase company engagement and participation.
However, when the above criteria is not met, work meetings can quickly:
- Become the culprit for lengthy, time-consuming discussions that lead nowhere.
- Be a point of distraction, rather than inspiration, that plummets productivity.
- Create a divisive environment that lacks swift decision-making skills.
- Lack substance if there is inadequate preparation or no action-oriented plan in place.
- Include irrelevant topics and include people who don’t need to be present.
- Garner attention to only those with the loudest voices but not always the best ideas.
- Misallocate resources without regard to the urgency, time or context of the meeting.
- Negatively affect a company’s bottom line.
To eliminate wasting productive work hours that can be better utilized outside of the (virtual) conference room instead of within it, refer to the following four steps:
1. Does a decision need to be made or are you disseminating information? Or, is this explicitly for connection and team building?
If a decision needs to be made or your meeting is explicitly for connection and team building, see step 2.
If you are disseminating information, follow specific company culture around written documentation and distribution (i.e., Slack, Google Docs, email, etc.) and do not hold a meeting.
2. Who do I need in the meeting?
Determine who is vital to your decision-making or team connection process and leave out those who don’t need to be there. If you find yourself invited to a meeting where you don’t feel you can or will be able to make an impactful contribution, opt out of it.
3. How urgently do we need the meeting?
If your meeting isn’t time-sensitive, hold off. Be mindful if you are coming up on the end of the quarter or if people attending the meeting have a lot on their plates. Schedule the meeting time when other, higher priority deadlines aren’t looming.
4. How long does this meeting really need to be? A productive meeting timeframe should not outlast the attention spans of those attending it. Stay aligned to the purpose of the meeting, maintain focus and be as direct and specific as possible to achieve the best overall results.
Scheduling an unnecessary meaning could cost your company more than valuable time: it can take a serious toll on employee morale as well. Consider the above before hitting send on your next meeting invite, and your employees will thank you.