Even with all of the technology we have in place today, meetings are still an inescapable part of office life. Some businesses have used email and collaboration tools to reduce the need to gather in a conference room on a regular basis. However, team members still feel that their bosses meet too often, with professionals spending an estimated 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings.
“Most of the tech talent we represent” says 10x founder Rishon Blumberg, “tell us that excessive meetings is a big reason they were both less productive at their job and why they wanted to switch to freelancing.”
If you think your meetings are the exception, you may be wrong. Here are a few things your employees likely are thinking during your meetings, especially if you’re asking them to spend five hours or more a week around a conference table.
Their minds are elsewhere
Past studies on daydreaming have shown that people’s minds wander nearly 47% of the time. For businesses trying to have a productive meeting, this presents an enormous challenge. Leaders can use tools like PowerPoint presentations to keep everyone’s attention, but workers will still inevitably be thinking about other things.
The best thing to do to prevent this is to maximize the efficiency of each meeting, keeping things as short and concise as possible. Provide an agenda even during routine staff meetings to let attendees clearly see each point that will be covered.
One of the biggest complaints employees have is that they spend so much time in meetings, they don’t have time to get any work done. This creates an interesting environment where your meeting is filled with attendees who are eager to get back to work. In general, it’s important to realize that attention spans are shorter than ever and even the most interesting meeting will have its fair share of restless participants. To keep this restlessness at bay, consider using group emails and collaboration tools for status updates and save meetings for brainstorming sessions and big announcements.
As employee-friendly as you attempt to make your meetings, the truth is some of your workers simply won’t understand what you’re talking about. This is especially true if you’re going in depth on specialized concepts. Avoid inviting the entire staff to a meeting that will appeal to only a small subset, choosing instead to include only those who can benefit from the information. Make your general meetings as interactive as possible to avoid having one person always speaking. If employees feel as though they’re contributing to the content of the meeting, they’re less likely to zone out.
Seemingly senseless meetings are a big source of frustration for high-performing workers. Productive people need large periods of uninterrupted time to focus on getting work done and constant meetings cut into that.
Instead of pulling the entire team into every meeting, hold meetings for decision makers and pass information down through middle managers.
Small businesses can avoid disruptions by summarizing results in an email for those who are only attending the meeting to be aware of what’s going on in the company.
They’re considering leaving
The biggest danger of excessive meetings is that they’ll scare good employees away. With many companies now letting employees work from home, less flexible employers may find that their meetings seem oppressive. Instead of forcing routine gatherings on your staff, instead let employees decide when they need to collaborate and let them work solo the rest of the time. While you’ll still need to occasionally have staff meetings, you’ll find a more flexible approach increases retention, which keeps your business headed in the right direction. If you’re unsure of the impact your meetings have on morale, occasionally ask workers for honest feedback about the number of meetings you’re holding and use that feedback to make changes.
Excessive meetings can drain productivity and reduce morale, causing businesses to suffer. It’s important to learn to distinguish important meetings from those that are unnecessary and find more efficient ways to accomplish your goals. If too many unnecessary meetings lead to increased turnover and productivity losses, it could have a devastating impact on your business’s bottom line.
If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!
Image by Mingo Hagen