For anyone running a small business, meetings can be a major bugbear. From brainstorming sessions with no outcome to daily catch-ups with every team member, meetings have got a bad reputation for time wasting.
A recent study looking into the matter by the Harvard Business Review found that many hours are spent wasted in unproductive meetings. It found that not only is the amount of meetings increasing (thanks to telecomm technology making connecting easier), but also that senior executives were found to be spending more than 40% of their week in or planning meetings.
One organisation was found to be spending the equivalent of $15m a year on a single, weekly meeting of midlevel managers.
“It’s important to work out how much meetings in your organisation are costing you,” says Sarah Musgrove at Opus Energy.
“Think about the duration of the upcoming meeting, how many employees are attending and the rough hourly rate of each employee, and try to repeat this for all the meetings you are aware of in an average week. You’ll then easily be able to see the cost each meeting is having on your business, and whether you should cut down on the daily catch ups.”
If you find your meetings are costing your business, take these tips on board to help make your business more efficient:
Reinstate the formality of meetings. This isn’t about everyone wearing a suit and addressing each other by surname, but more about solidifying your meeting structure.
Have a personal agenda – know what you’re looking to accomplish by the end of the meeting.
Don’t feel obliged to talk for two hours just because you have a room booked for two hours. If you meet your premeditated accomplishment early, then you can wrap it up. If you haven’t achieved this, you know you have a bigger project on your hands.
To keep everyone on the same page, make a shared agenda that’s circulated beforehand and can act as your meeting schedule. Tick off each item, and then consider sending minutes after so all in attendance know what action is taking place as a result of your discussions.
Rethink adding that extra employee who maybe doesn’t need to attend.
Finally, you may want to learn of Parkinson’s Law, which dictates that work will expand to fill the time you allot to it. Make your meeting shorter – only allow half an hour if you traditionally allot one hour, and you’ll probably be surprised by what you can achieve.