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Meetings are a waste of time.
Although I say “we”, it could be that you are different. Perhaps you’ve got this meeting thing down to science. Maybe your meetings don’t waste a second on unnecessary frivolity. Maybe you manage a team with remarkable efficiency and constant focus.
However, statistics prove that such a phantom is not true. Atlassian estimates that employees spend on average 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. This wasted time comes with a $37 billion price tag.
This is the annual “salary expense of unnecessary meetings for U.S. business.”
Meetings account for 15% of a company’s time. For managers, it’s even worse! Managers spend more than a quarter of their time in meetings while middle managers spend over a third. Upper-level management spends nearly half of their time in meetings. Data from Fuze infographic
Remember that people don’t just waste time at the meeting. They also waste time before the meeting by attending additional meetings, preparing for the meeting or driving to the meeting. Harvard Business Review examined the ripple effect of one weekly meeting at a corporation. The analysis revealed that the meeting cost 300,000 hours per year.
Let’s say that each team member was paid $25 an hour on average, which is quite modest considering it was a meeting with senior-level executives. This is $7,500,000 per weekly meeting.
If I saw a $7.5million line item in the budget for “meetings”, I would cancel that meeting as soon as I could access my Google calendar.
Time-wasting meetings are fundamentally flawed because of the human factor.
Is it good or bad to waste time? In some cases, I think “wasting time” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We may need to have some safeguards when it comes to meetings. This will prevent us from wasting valuable time, irritating efficient people, or frustrating clients and customers.
We need a set of strategies that will prevent us from wasting our time in meetings. These are the tactics.
1. You don’t have the meeting you want to start with.
Before you schedule your meeting, ask yourself this simple question: Do I need this meeting? “We’ve had it before,” doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to have it again. If this question doesn’t resolve the matter, ask yourself some more diagnostic questions.
Is it possible to help all participants if we have this meeting?
This meeting will help our clients.
Is this meeting serving the ultimate purpose for our business or organisation?
Is this meeting going to help the business save or make more money?
Eliminate the meeting if possible. There is no meeting so nobody will waste their time. There are other options than meetings. There’s also the phone. There’s text. There’s email. Your project management software may include discussion features that can replace a meeting. I have used TeamGantt’s discussion feature to avoid meetings.
TeamGantt sample discussion on a project. To protect our top-secret projects, we have blurred the content. Only invite those who are necessary.
Once your meeting passes the first test it is time to go through another. Ask “Does each participant have to attend the meeting?” Before you send out invites to meetings, I suggest going through each name on your list to determine if they need to attend. These questions will help you get more specific:
What will this person bring to the discussion that we wouldn’t have if he wasn’t there?
What will this person hear or learn that will help her do her job better?
This technique can be very effective if you are ruthless. You may be surprised at how many people don’t actually use it.