The highest cost for most companies is their labour costs. And the highest labour waste is generally meetings. Do the math. Think about the number of meetings and the number of people and their annual incomes. It becomes a big number.
The other side of meetings is the staff behaviour in and around meetings. All too often a few people cause a lot of time waste and unproductive outcomes. Meetings should be high output events. Are yours?
A meeting should be about planning work, not doing work. You should be gathering to discuss what has been accomplished and what needs to be accomplished. The mechanics of this mean;
- Everyone should have material ahead of the meeting to review prior to the meeting. In meeting reviews are wasteful.
- Everyone should be focused on planning the next steps or efforts when in a meeting. Not doing the work in the meeting.
- Collaboration in the form of a group discussion is great for brain storming and shaping planning efforts. But group creation of documents or presentations is ultra-inefficient.
The sacrificial lamb
In the knowledge worker environment, we often focus on the creation of documents of every type. This leads to the “meeting” based creation process which is often not helpful. A much better way is to have an individual create a first draft. Then everyone gets to read it, get their creative juices going, and throw stones at it! The first draft author is the sacrificial lamb as they bear the brunt of that first round of criticism. But the benefit is a fast cycle time to a good group outcome by framing the start document.
Here is a list of protocols that you should live by.
- Have an agenda
- Start on time / arrive on time. Don’t wait for laggards – you just reinforce their behaviour.
- Expect that everyone has done their pre reading. Don’t review just for one person who did not.
- Hold to your agenda
- Assign tasks for next meetings
- End on time
Running meetings and good meeting attendance protocols are great training grounds for future executive roles. The higher you go; the more meetings you will attend. Mastering the art of meetings now will really benefit you later on.
There is great meeting management material to be had at https://www.google.ca/#q=meeting+management. Check it out and run better meetings!
What are your meeting horror stories? When have your observed a great meeting being led? Why?