Meetings that Work for You (Not Against You)

By: Matt Gainsford

Author

Love them or hate them, meetings are a necessary part of our work life. How many meetings you truly need, well that’s another story. 

Meetings aren’t going anywhere; in fact, we’re having more meetings and we’re not slowing down anytime soon. 

According to The Wall Street Journal Time spent in meetings has been rising by 8% to 10% annually since 2000 and is likely to continue increasing. Michael Mankins, a partner in San Francisco with the management-consulting firm Bain & Co., said that Senior executives are spending an average of 28 hours in meetings each week, and middle managers spend 21 hours. Mr. Mankins is also the lead author of a recent 17-company time-management study with analytics provider VoloMetrix. 

With all these meetings we must be an inspired and highly productive group of people to make the most of them. We’re here to help you get the ideas flowing, the proper plans put in place, and get engagement levels higher than ever before.  

The top 3 causes that frustrate team members about meetings are as follows: 

  • Unhelpful meetings that feel like a waste of time – 32.7% 
  • Meetings without progress or conclusion – 24.5% 
  • Meetings that went off on a tangent and moved away from their original goal – 28.59% 

Here are some more stats that will give you something to consider and potentially make you rethink meetings altogether, even though no meetings would be impossible. 

  • Collectively, 15% of an organization’s time is spent in meetings 
  • Unproductive meetings cost organizations $37 billion per year 
  • Team members can spend up to 4 hours during their work week preparing for status update meetings. 
  • In the eyes of Executives more than 67% of meetings are seen as failures 
  • 92% of workers surveyed admitted they multitask in meetings  
  • 69% check their email during meetings 
  • 4% of people multitask during video calls while 57% multitask during phone calls (which seems quite conservative 
  • Executives can sometimes be caught up in meetings for an average of up to 23 hours per week 
  • When wasteful meetings occur, workers often lose valuable time needed to complete tasks and ultimately need to stay late or take personal time out of their weekends to do so 
  • Of 182 senior managers surveyed, 65% say meetings stop them from finishing individual work and 71% consider meetings unproductive and inefficient 

 

Meetings take time, cost money, and with two-thirds of them perceived to be lacking in value, there is obviously a problem that needs to be resolved. With every problem, comes a solution, and that means there is a shot at redemption; a chance to “meet” or exceed expectations. 

Done properly meetings can be an organization’s secret weapon. A chance for managers and team members to make meaningful connections, foster vulnerability, build trust, develop accountability, plan comprehensively, and track progress. We believe meetings should do three things: 

  • Impact 
  • Include 
  • Inspire 

 

Impact 

What information are you looking to impart to attendees? Is it something that can be achieved through more efficient means (an email, quick conversation, etc.)? If not, then make sure the information is impactful and it has somewhere to go. One example could be the sharing of company information in a transparent way which will build trust with your people. 

 

Include 

A great meeting will give your team members room to share something, whether that’s shout-outs, feedback, or ideas. Diversity of thought is key to the successful growth of an organization and can inspire creative, meaningful solutions to complex problems. By including and engaging your people you achieve buy-in and buy-in creates receptivity to new and better ideas.  

 

Inspire 

Meetings that further progress are the most exciting. Team members need to leave a meeting with something: a plan, an action item that will be followed up on, a renewed sense of belief, information that equips the team member’s growth or the ability to make informed choices. 

If you want to take your meetings to the genius level, then use these three practical tips. 

  • See meetings as a last resort* 
  • Stick to the script 
  • Record, respect, regards 

 

Meetings are a Last Resort 

If you can avoid the meeting and find that an email, phone call, or Teams message will work just fine, then we encourage you to use it. Less meetings means more impactful meetings. Better meetings offer a better forum for an exchange of idea, and better ideas have incalculable value. 

*There are exceptions to the rule, these would include weekly One on One meetings with your manager, Quarterly conversations that fuse meaningful data and personal connection. More on this later. 

 

Stick to the Script 

With 28.59% of people citing meetings that don’t stay as one of their top 3 frustrations it is essential you stay on track. It can be easy to get swept along in discussions that seem like they promote innovative ideas that feel exciting in the moment but are distracting and pull you away from the true purpose of the meeting. “Going by the book” (or detailed agenda) can decrease the amount of meeting time up to 80% 

No more than 37% of meetings in the US use agendascornerstone dynamics 

By sticking to script, you can increase productivity, efficiency and give yourself the ability to say the magic words people in meetings love to hear, “let me give you back the gift of time.” 

By having an agenda, you put yourself ahead of two thirds of businesses out there. By sticking to the agenda, well, we haven’t crunched the numbers or done the math but if it decreases your meeting time by 80%, then you have yourself a much more concentrated and focused time.  

 

Record, Respect, Regards 

Have one person take notes during the meeting that can be shared with the attendees. You should also make a recording of the meeting for those who want to go back and rewatch/make sure they didn’t miss anything. Take note of any important action items and ensure they’re shared with those who did and didn’t attend. We also recommend that you follow up with an email after the meeting ends. You might be surprised by how much impact a follow-up email has.  

 

You Have to Know When to Quit 

Gather regular feedback from your team members about the value of the meetings. Unhelpful meetings that are a waste of time are the leading cause of frustration among team members. Checking in regularly will help you establish whether to meet or move the updates to a digital platform. 

 

Meetings You Won’t Want to Miss 

Often overlooked or misunderstood, the One-on-One meeting can be one the most powerful, connecting, and energizing meetings. Done well, One-on-One meetings will enable managers to give meaningful feedback, stay aligned on values, focus and growth, and energize and engage team members. 

Weekly One-on-One meetings help establish rapport and trust between team members and managers, they allow for space to talk about what’s important. An effective One-on-One will also give a forum for the sharing of any problems and give you the ability to create solutions that last. Some issues, if not addressed early, can snowball into irreconcilable differences, and that’s something you definitely want to avoid. A simple 15-minute weekly meeting could be the key to your retention strategy. 

The positive impact on your culture will also be felt. An employee with a defined career path who receives regular feedback from a manager they trust and in whom they believe has the best for them and their career, is of untold value.  

Meetings are a tool that, used correctly, will drive efficiency, increase connection, and create dynamic growth for an organization. There is an art to it and the simplest way to assess whether you need a meeting is to be brutally honest. It starts with the question, why are we doing this? and it is followed up with the question, what do we hope to achieve; what’s the plan? Answering that question will set you on your way to attributing the value of scheduling time to pull people out of their routines and give their time and energy to the discussion.  

Meetings aren’t going anywhere and, for those of you who like Lord of the Rings, to quote the wise sage and celestial protagonist, Gandalf, (albeit out of context) – “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. 

How we handle meetings, how we utilize meetings and how we harness the power of meetings will determine their success and the forward motion of our plans, projects, and processes. 

Give your people the gift of time, whether that’s in a valuable meeting or in not scheduling a meeting at all.  

 

Partner with Titus 

More than recruiters, Titus Talent Strategies are a team of Talent Optimizers who genuinely care about the work we do. We empower companies to put the right people in the right seats through informed, connected strategies that combine data with an empathetic understanding of what makes people tick. We recognize that our partners are investing in us and that results mean more than just people placed in a role. It’s about impact and connection.     

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