How Effective are your Company Meetings? Take the Survey and Find Out!
The more times you answer “yes”, the more effective your meetings likely are.
For all the times you answered “no” to a survey question, ask yourself: “What am I doing to make my company’s meetings more productive?
Cost of Ineffective Meetings
Studies show that the number one time-waster at work is too many meetings (Infographic: How Much of Your Workday Do You Spend Actually Working?, Nicole Dieker). I think we’ve all felt this way before too, perhaps more than once.
That’s why, I decided to read Cameron Herold’s book, Meetings Suck: Turning One of The Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable. In it, among other things, he looks at the cost of hosting a typical one-hour meeting: “If you have 10 employees who each make $70,000 a year—$35 an hour, in other words—that’s $350 for a one-hour meeting. In fact, the average meeting costs about $500 to $1,000 an hour” (Meetings Suck).
Using Meetings to Build Success: Strategies
Herold describes meetings as a “tool”, a perspective I’ve never thought of before. Just like we have strategic plans, employee training manuals, established processes and procedures, well-structured meetings can be a tool for success. They can encourage dialogue between team members (beyond email!), reduce misunderstandings that can result from written communications, and stimulate ideas. Meetings, when run effectively, can help a business grow!
This led to some aha moments, resulting in Gougeon to change our strategy surrounding meetings. We still have work to do, but we wanted to share some of our learning:
- Designated Leader: Simple formula, really. Whoever calls the meeting, leads it. They are responsible for keeping it on track and on time. If other attendees have roles (e.g., note taker), we try to ensure they know their responsibilities beforehand.
- Invite List: We became conscious of who attended meetings and began inviting only those employees who were directly involved and needed.
- Succinct Agenda: We redesigned our template agenda for meetings. It outlines very succinctly the purpose of the meeting, the goal, discussion topics, action items, and timelines. When possible, we also circulate the set agenda to the invited parties in advance of the meeting, so everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them.
- Set Expectations: If required, we give attendees “pre-homework” such as: “Before this meeting, please think about these questions. Come prepared with these finished items…” This way, we maximize our efforts and reduce meeting times.
- Establish Timelines: We set the meeting time, gauging how long it should take. We always try to start and end on time. Stick to schedule!
- Time of Day: If possible, we schedule a meeting at the start or end of the workday, or clump meetings on the same day or within 15 minutes of each other. This allows us to compartmentalize our day.
- Be Honest: We relooked at our meeting schedule and slashed them asking ourselves: “Do we really need a meeting for this? Will an email, call, or visit suffice? Can some meetings be combined?” We simply have fewer meetings now.
- Positive Start: We always begin meetings by taking a couple minutes to share success stories to start on a positive note.
- Active Listening: No cell phones are permitted in meetings to maintain our focus and schedule.
- Action Items: We end meetings with next steps, so everyone knows what they’re responsible for completing and by when. The meeting leader usually follows up after a week or so to see how everyone is progressing.
We’ve really spent time ensuring that everyone who comes to a meeting walks away feeling like they should have been there and know what their next steps are. But, we’re still working on making each and every meeting more effective and productive…making sure they don’t SUCK!
Action Item/Next Steps: Free Resource for Download
If you sense that your meetings could be more effective and productive, visit our Resource Centre to download our free sample Employee Feedback Survey to circulate to your staff and gain their insights on your company meetings.
Turning (in)effective meetings to effective!