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How Meetings Can Kill Productivity

How Meetings Can Kill Productivity

In my upcoming book “The Unstoppable Organization: Engage Employees, Empower Customers and Grow Revenue”, I write about the value of collaboration in driving better communication, more robust decision-making and heightened levels of creativity amongst employees. Included is a strong warning from a CEO I interviewed on how the wrong approach to meetings can not only curve collaboration, but kill productivity. Specifically he said “Holding meetings between employees is not a form of collaboration. The environment you create is what breeds and drives collaboration.”

Increase Collaboration and Productivity

During the interview we discussed three key considerations this organization went through in order to improve collaboration and productivity at the same time, which placed a significant focus on addressing the structure and frequency of company wide meetings, namely:

1. How many meetings are too many meetings?

2. How long should a meeting be?

3. When should technology be used in place of a face-to-face meeting or in supplement too?

The answers to these questions, as I discuss in the book, vary by organization. This said, I learned through multiple interviews a theme of Unstoppable Organizations relative to rules around meetings:

  • Meetings that begin to interfere with employee output and productivity (as identified by employees) mark the sign that alternate solutions need to be found.
  • Meetings with an “open” agenda should be held daily amongst teams. Focus on initiatives that everyone is engaged in (and how others are affected).
  • Meetings should be built around objectives, not time. A calendar is only a place to schedule a meeting, however time on the calendar is not a determinant to the value of a meeting.
  • Any meeting that lasts beyond 45 minutes has diminished engagement by those in attendance. Preferably meetings should be held in 30 – 45 minute increments at most. Time beyond this signals a need for another meeting.
  • The incorporation of technology like zoom, skype and various other online platforms like Adobe Connect can facilitate valuable face-to-face dialogues. This reduces the time it takes for employees to travel to and from meetings. As a rule, if employees are in the same building technology should be set aside in favor of a face-to-face interaction.

Better Manage Your Time

How many meetings are your employees engaged in on a weekly basis? How much time are they (or you!) spending in meetings, and are the meetings necessary?

These are significant questions when it comes to effectively managing both your time and that of your teams. Using the guidelines set out above, try meeting with your employees this week and determine how you might improve (or better yet reduce) the frequency and duration of meetings. Test these changes for 30 days and then re-assess their effectiveness with your employees.

Maintaining a focus on managing interactions and communications through effective meetings is one of the key tools that unstoppable organizations hold as a priority.

© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.

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