Between 1976 to 1993, the average workweek for people aged between 25 to 54 years, increased by nearly 2 hours. Fast forward 25 years, and the average work week now is around 72 hours.
The end result is that employees are frustrated and business owners are crestfallen at rising lack of productivity. But what’s behind this astronomical rise in working hours?
Changing job roles and descriptions are part of the problem, but a big contribution is from poor planning and excessive meetings.
And when you get down to calculating what the cost of meetings are, chances are you’re in for a rude shock. The average salary cost of a meeting is around $338 on an average, and as much as 63% of them are unplanned, according to a recent survey.
The truth is, ineffective meetings that literally serve no purpose have become prevalent all over the US, causing a frightful waste of time and money. To put this into perspective, US companies lose up to $238 billion every year, just on meetings that could have been averted.
Here are 5 best meeting practices for every business leader to follow to avoid losing money on redundant meetings:
1. Make a Positive Shift in the Company Culture
To have highly effective meetings, your company’s official stance on meetings should show a positive shift towards respect. Meetings are serious affairs and should be treated as such.
Creation of an environment where attendants are expected to be on time every time, and contribute in all capacities, is a step in the right direction. Employees should look forward to getting involved in meetings, and latecomers should never be entertained. Neither should things discussed in meetings be repeated. This fosters a culture where you value everyone’s time and try to make a positive difference, which is all the change that is needed.
2. Always Have Action Oriented Meetings
Showing vigour and purpose before and during a meeting can send out the right signals. Before a meeting, you could email a reminder to all those expected to attend it, outlining the agenda for the day.
Expect employees to be thoroughly prepared with their inputs, and have a fast-paced action-oriented meeting. Someone who is not contributing enough is probably not needed in the subsequent meetings.
Perpetuation of this sends out a strong message to employees, reminding them of company expectations from them. Rather than walking into a meeting aimlessly, it makes employees buckle up and become more dynamic.
3. Always Be Solving a Clear Problem
Meetings are a great way to clear muddled heads and look into new perspective. It offers refreshingly different ideas, and one of them might just prove useful to you. Meetings to brainstorm are quite useful in their own way.
However, the aim of the meeting and brainstorming should be clear, and oriented towards a particular result. You should not try to solve too many problems at the same time, or else you will end up just wasting precious time.
In these meetings, the floor should be open to all for radical ideas from any employee in attendance, and inputs should be jotted down. With all the proposals lined up in front of you, you will probably utilise your time better and even reach a conclusion sooner rather than later.
4. Propagate Positivity in The Meetings
Most meetings take place between members of a particular team. Sometimes, a sense of workplace friction comes into play between two or more team members. This hampers their ability to work at their best, and makes them reluctant to share their ideas. Such recalcitrance does not bode well for a meeting, or any organisation, as potential ideas are kept pent up.
In these cases, you should create and nurture a culture of positivity in meetings. This helps to alleviate any tension or misgivings that a team member may have, and helps them to come out in the open with their ideas. You also shouldn’t criticize people in front of everyone. The repercussions of such actions can be felt in the subsequent meetings, where people become reluctant to opine. Instead, you must encourage them to share and venture forward. Who knows, it may turn out to be just the spark your company needs.
5. Don’t Set a Meeting For Everything, Use Technology
Technology has become all-pervasive today. Leveraging technology and new martech trends , you can cut down on your need to have face to face meetings, drastically. With a lot of options like webinars and video conferences, physical meetings can be avoided, especially if you’re working from remote areas. Technology can negate travel time, cost to company and allow you to work on your own project, while attending a mobile meeting through your device.
Especially in sales and marketing, latest technology like marketing automation systems and business card reading apps can save precious time for sales and marketing teams. Business card reading apps can solve the need for time-consuming meetings, in order to acquire contact details of prospective business leads. A business card reading app like ScanBizCard pools all the customer information onto a single platform, that is accessible on the go, so that you can directly access contacts and leads for effective customer engagement and sales prospecting. You no longer need to have prolix meetings over customer details. This can free up time for your sales executives to do what they do best — sell, sell and sell!
In a recent study of the US and European companies, the Boston Consulting Group found that over the past fifteen years, the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals needed in a business organisation has increased by anywhere from 50 to 350 percent.
Attending ineffective meetings are quite akin to such barriers. It creates redundancy in work procedures and apathy sets in.
Meetings, with their increased frequency, start to lose their objective and purpose. Employees stop taking them seriously. What you should look for in meetings, is the creation of value, in exchange for your valuable time. If there is no value creation, the meeting probably should have been avoided.
Once you and your company starts thinking on these terms, following the five best practices become easy, and meetings start to bring out the best in you.