It’s that tiny pop-up alert we all dread: another reminder for a productivity-killing, all-staff meeting. Weekly team meetings are an energy drain and productivity killer. They’re a waste of money, too. A recent Bain & Company found that a single weekly meeting of mid-level managers was costing one organization $15 million a year. How much are yours costing? (You can estimate the cost of your own all-staff meetings using Harvard Business Review’s Meeting Cost Calculator.)
Unnecessary weekly meetings burden your team and hinder productivity. The more meetings you put on your team’s calendar to “check-in”, the less time your team can dedicate to generating leads, nurturing prospects through the sales pipeline and closing deals.
We’ve all had managers who scheduled meetings just to hear themselves talk and drone on about their perspective on life. Don’t be that manager.
6 Secrets for Fewer, More Productive Meetings
At Lucas Group, I strive to keep meetings to an absolute minimum. Here’s how:
- Stick to an action item list. Keep weekly meetings to 30 minutes or less by running down a list of actionable items. Prevent meetings from being hijacked by having a clear plan in place and never opening up the floor for general discussion. Never hold a meeting to achieve group consensus or make a decision. Only hold meetings around executable items that your team will take immediate action on.
- Don’t distribute information. Your team doesn’t need a 45-min meeting with HR to learn about the new healthcare insurance policy, and then listen to Brenda from Accounting ask a personal question about her medical situation. Instead, distribute this information over email. Allow your team to receive information at a time of convenience for them, rather than interrupting their daily workflow.
- Automate follow-up. There’s no need to schedule a follow-up meeting to ensure the tasks you assigned in the first meeting have been completed. Use an automated accountability process that creates visibility into performance and executable items responsibilities. Spot-check and follow up in real-time if those expectations are not being met.
- Change the scenery. Re-energize your team by rethinking your meeting locations. Have a quick huddle in the bullpen, meet at the coffee shop first thing in the morning, or get the team outside on a nice day. Create time for collaboration outside the confines of a stale conference room.
- Beware of virtual meetings. If your team members work remotely or are not always in the office, it’s tempting to hold a weekly conference call just to touch base. Don’t. Check-in conference calls can be even more unproductive than an in-person meeting. Why? Your participants are checking email, scrolling social media feeds, and doing just about anything other than being fully engaged with the call. If you must check-in with the virtual team, use video conferencing to maximize engagement and limit meeting length to no more than 15 minutes.
- Schedule a one-on-one monthly check-in. I hold a monthly meeting with each member of my team to set goals, provide constructive feedback on previous goals, and identify action items for improvement. Rather than regurgitating the same stale information at a weekly all-staff meeting, these one-on-one meetings are an opportunity to dive deeper into issues impacting achievement.
Frequency does not equate with productivity. Since eliminating our weekly meetings, I’ve noticed my team actually holds more impromptu small group meetings as issues arise. They’re empowered to handle important action items immediately, rather than waiting for the all-staff meeting to update the team and seek guidance. We’re more productive, more nimble, and no longer living in fear of those dreaded meeting reminders.