Meetings are extremely valuable for organizational life. They are used to brainstorm, take strategic decisions, plan business strategies, communicate with employees, problem-solving, and much more.
Despite being so important, recent studies confirm that today business leaders spend more time in meetings than in the past and this trend is even expected to increase in the future. Indeed, nowadays executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings.
But does actually having so many meetings lead to concrete benefits for the organization?
In most of the cases, the answer is no. Executives report that 67% of meetings are failures, and most employees do not follow the session, being instead busy with are “multi-tasking”, checking email or even doing unrelated work.
Moreover, ineffective meetings perceived to have a large negative impact on how satisfied an employee is at the end of the workday. Indeed, if an employee spent the whole day attending ineffective and useless meetings, he will have the feeling of not having been productive. As a consequence, employees who attend a rash of bad meetings are stressed, dissatisfied and more predisposed to leave the company with such a meeting culture.
How to hold productive meetings?
The first rule is to reduce the frequency and length of meetings.
Cutting out many of your meetings actually leads to a more productive, involved workforce. As a manager or executive, you should really distinguish between unnecessary meetings and opt only for the most important ones. For example, for brainstorming and discussing documents or secondary decisions, planning phases of business strategies already discussed, a number of tools can be used to substitute meetings. Creating chats and channels in Microsoft Teams is as an instance a valuable alternative to reduce meetings.
Second rule: improve managers’ skills in meetings
Managers should improve their skills in scheduling, holding and performing meetings. The basics are: knowing when to call meetings, how to prepare an agenda, how to encourage participation and how to manage cultural differences and resolve the conflict. Apart from the basics, there are other main rules:
1. Plan the meeting in advance. Plan the meeting and create an agenda with the topics to address, the documents and files necessary to be attached to the agenda, plan the time you need to extensively discuss a topic, without exceeding the maximum time for tolerance.
2. Establish ground rules. Define rules and roles in your organization’s meetings. Everyone has to know how to behave and what to expect from a meeting.
3. Ask for feedback. at the end of every session, it is good to spare some time for feedback on the efficiency of the meeting, in the participant’s perception. To increase the effectiveness of a meeting, attendees should periodically critique it for what can be improved.
4. Change your meeting culture step by step. Major improvements do not occur overnight but gradually — one meeting at a time. Start by improving just one meeting per week. This can to significant benefits for the organization while also contributing to the motivation of employees with the aim to make every meeting productive in the future.
In order to know how to hold more productive meetings that save time and are outcomes-focused, read the Silverside methodology for smarter meetings and download our whitepaper.