I saw a post today about how to drastically cut meeting time by sending out relevant materials in advance and proceeding right to discussion. Margaret Heffeman writes in her blog at cbsnews.com that assuming people do their homework and proceeding right to discussion will save about 90% of your meeting time.
I have an even better idea. Cancel the meeting! Here are three reasons people often meet when they should not:
To discuss an issue. If you don’t need to decide what to do right away and the issue isn’t sensitive or complicated, people can find other ways to share ideas. Use a chat board or other social media, ask people to respond to a targeted survey or simply use natural opportunities (like hallway conversations) to ask people what they think.
To build relationships. People who work together do need to create a connection that allows for open communication and mutual trust. Opportunities to build relationships can and should be built into a meeting agenda. However, if you’re having a weekly meeting with no other defined and necessary outcomes, you’re probably wasting everyone’s time. Try a monthly lunch instead, and keep meetings focused largely on achieving business results.
Because it’s on the calendar. This is the most frequent type of meeting that should not happen – meetings that are on a regular basis without regard to the need/focus. Schedule the fewest number of recurring meetings possible and feel free to cancel them if you don’t have an output-based agenda.
What are the worthwhile reasons to meet? Hold a meeting if you need to make a decision, engage the group creativity, get aligned on direction or improve a specific aspect of team functioning.
Meeting when it isn’t absolutely necessary wastes everyone’s time, and may actually create more issues. “Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings” (Ashleigh Brilliant).
Need to make your (fewer) meetings count? Contact Humanergy.
Photo from iStockphoto.
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