A friend mentioned that her company held so many meetings during the week that she couldn’t keep her head above water with her daily work output. That got me thinking about how much time is being wasted because of poorly managed meetings or meetings that get scheduled without any regard to their impact on individual’s work time. Having to balance the need for collaborative, collective work and an individual’s need to have “deep thinking” time for their priority tasks is a delicate dance that senior managers face. Holding meetings too frequently and that are poorly timed and badly run leads to losses in productivity and the well-being of groups and individuals.
If you’ve found yourself wondering if your company is holding way too many meetings, and if you’re going to attempt to strike a balance in the quality and quantity of meetings, there are a few suggestions I’d suggest you keep in mind:
- Ask individual team members how meetings are affecting them personally, as well as their group. Create a survey to gather data and impressions from individual team members. You will probably learn how much resentment has been built up if your company meetings are inefficient and ineffective.
- Get together as a team to digest everyone’s feedback and analyze what is working and what is not. Make this meeting an open, nonjudgmental discussion of the survey results. You will want to get input from each team member to get buy-in for your long-term plan of action.
- Measure the progress of any changes you make in your meeting strategy. Team members who feel they are becoming more productive because of the amount of time not wasted in ineffective or inefficient meetings need to share their findings. Tangible wins need to be shared and can be learning opportunities across divergent departments.
- Debrief as a group. It is critical to openly take stock of how people feel about the meetings they attend and about their work process more generally. Frustration, resentment, and even hopelessness are signals that people are falling back into bad patterns. Remember, changing protocols and behaviors takes time, and sustaining momentum requires consistent attention.
Altering something as basic as meetings can have far-reaching implications. Meetings do not have to be a trap; but they can become so with enormous impacts on productivity, communication, and job satisfaction. Look at your company’s meeting philosophy and work as a group to hold better meetings, not more meetings.