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Is this the biggest waste of time, money and energy in your company?

Tags: Meetings | Impact | Save time | Do more

2nd May

Why is it that companies have rigorous processes and sign-off procedures for agreeing a £200 expense… but none whatsoever when people do something much more expensive – call a meeting?

Because, meetings cost a lot

  • What percentage of your job do you spend in meetings? Multiply that percentage by your salary – that’s the cost to your company of you attending them all
  • But the cost is more than that. Now add on all the profitable, productive work you would have done if you hadn’t been at all those meetings
  • Now do the same exercise for every other employee in your company – that’s how much your company spends on meetings
  • But it’s more than money…
  • Now add on all the time absorbed in these meetings
  • And then there’s the negative impact some meetings have on people’s energy and motivation
  • One more: with recurring meetings, people often just go through the motions. This stifles creativity, thought and discussion – another huge cost
  • Oh, and then there’s hire of rooms and equipment; the cost of refreshments, and so on…

This list shows how much it costs your company to have so many meetings. If you’re a team leader, you can make it more personal to you – multiply the costs/time/energy sap/Stifling Costs per person by the number of people in your team – that’s the impact on your team’s productivity and happiness.

Now, some meetings of course are worth their weight in gold. But, for the ones that aren’t, here’s the question in this Tip’s title again:

       Is this the biggest waste of time, money and happiness in your company?

It could be. It’s right up there, that’s for sure.

So, what to do about it? Well, I can think of three obvious things you could do right now:

  1. For all your brilliant meetings – the ones that everyone truly values and enjoys – don’t change a thing. They’re brilliant as they are. Carry on
  2. For all the rubbish, pointless meetings that achieve absolutely nothing? Stop them. Now. It’ll do no harm if you do this. After all, they’re rubbish and pointless
  3. And for all the meetings that are somewhere in between – they do have a point, but could be more productive and enjoyable – improve them

And to improve these meetings, remember my PALM technique:

  • Purpose – identify your meeting’s purpose – what you want to happen as a result of it. Usually this will be one of two things beginning with A – you Agree on something and/or there’ll be some Actions
  • Agenda – once you know your purpose, work backwards from there. What are the only things you need to decide, to achieve this purpose? That’s your agenda
  • Limit the time – don’t schedule meetings for one hour because Outlook is split into one-hour chunks. That’s just ridiculous. If a meeting can be done in ten minutes, put it in for ten minutes
  • Minimal attendees – the more attendees, the slower/worse the decision making. So, only invite the people who need to be there, to achieve the meeting’s purpose

Remember, if you attend eight one-hour meetings every week, that means you spend a fifth of your job in meetings. And, unless they’re all brilliant, that’s way too much.

Action point

Look through this week’s dairy. Label each meeting as:

  1. Brilliant
  2. Rubbish
  3. Somewhere in between

And then, for each one:

  1. If it’ll be brilliant – attend it. You’ll love it
  2. If it’ll be rubbish – if you’re the owner, cancel it. If someone else is, decline it (politely of course. Oh, unless it’s your boss’s boss’s boss’s meeting… in which case, maybe just go!)
  3. If it’s somewhere in between, improve it with PALM

And, to make your meetings even better, check out month 2’s videos. There’s even something on how to ensure they’re always interesting!