How productive are your workplace meetings?
Are the outcomes worth the significant investment?
Is attending unproductive meetings just adding to your already hectic work schedule?
Recent research has found that the average officer worker spends 62 hours a month in meetings and that 31 of those hours – or exactly half! – are considered unproductive or a waste of time. The estimated salary cost to businesses from this lost productivity is a whopping US$37 billion dollars each year.
The ability to hold a successful and productive meeting is a dying art. Even with the wealth of technological aids for modern organisations, many meetings still lack focus, fail to deliver outcomes, fail to engage staff and often become a source of great frustration.
The ability to chair a successful meeting, even at an informal level, is a direct reflection on our professionalism. If our meetings are not achieving anything, this perception can become an extension of how others perceive us. The reality is many people are not confident in setting agendas, navigating procedural motions, understanding meeting rules and etiquette, recording action items and taking minutes to make the most of the forum.
In order to get the most from resource-intensive meetings, organisations should regularly review the way they organise, conduct and follow-up on them.
Here are the top ten tips from PSW HR Solutions on how to have more successful meetings:
Define your purpose – why do you need to have a meeting? Is there another communication channel possible that will achieve the same or an even better result in a shorter time-frame?
If you must have a meeting, plan it carefully. Who needs to be there? Do you need the entire team or just the key decision-makers? Invite everyone who needs to be there and no-one else.
Develop your agenda collaboratively to ensure relevance of discussion topics and ‘buy in’ from intended participants. Set time limits for each item. Rank agenda items in order of priority and allow more time for complex or controversial items.
4. Roles & Responsibilities
Assign clear meeting roles and responsibilities. For formal or structured meetings, make sure the role of minute taker is assigned to someone appropriately skilled for that task. The same goes for the chairperson and/or facilitator. These two roles are crucial, particularly for large meetings.
Is the meeting venue fit-for-purpose? Room size, accessibility, ventilation, lighting, equipment and technology all matter, especially for long and/or important meetings.
Send out any background reading materials well in advance of the meeting. This is not only a courteous and professional practice but it will help to foster more thoughtful and considered discussion at the meeting itself.
7. Procedures & Protocols
Follow agreed meeting procedures and protocols. Anticipate any contentious or controversial issues that may be raised and/or potentially difficult personalities who may be attending. Make sure you have strategies up your sleeve to deal with them. For example, seat potentially difficult participants close to the chairperson or facilitator, on their right hand side, if possible. Brief the chairperson or facilitator thoroughly in advance about the meeting’s purpose and any issues or invitees that may be of concern.
Encourage active participation and questions for more meaningful and honest discussions.
Don’t wait till the end of the meeting to evaluate it! Then it’s too late to do anything about it. Ask participants during the meeting for their feedback on how the objectives are being met and take their feedback on board without taking it personally.
10. Actions & Outcomes
Follow-up on any agreed action items and outcomes from the meeting as soon as possible. Be sure to send out the minutes promptly, otherwise the momentum for change/progress may be lost, and key participants will be less likely to attend your next meeting.
It makes good business sense to take meeting management seriously. Improvements can be simple and inexpensive to implement and the potential for positive results can be enormous.
For more information and help on how to develop better meeting skills, including useful strategies for engaging and energising participants, troubleshooting tips and essential competencies for your 21st century meetings toolbox, please get in touch.