10 Strategies to Minimize Meetings in the Workplace

10 Strategies to Minimize Meetings in the Workplace
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Strategies to Minimize Meetings in the Workplace
Endless meetings at work can impede productivity, decrease employee engagement, and stifle innovation. New manager training participants often complain about being trapped in a cycle of back-to-back meetings, leaving little time to lead, manage, or coach their teams.  However, there is hope. By adopting strategies to minimize meetings in the workplace, leaders and their teams can better achieve individual and organizational objectives.

Workplace Meeting Research – The Meeting Epidemic
It is estimated that more than $30 billion a year in the United States is wasted on unproductive meetings alone.  How is that possible?  According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average employee spends over 30 hours per month in meetings, with much of this time being unproductive.

Research by Steven G. Rogelberg at the University of North Carolina Charlotte found that only 50% of the time spent in meetings is effective and engaging. The effectiveness gets worse for remote meetings.  This is not a surprise to most meeting attendees.  Without clear objectives, an agreed upon process, and the right people in the room, most meetings are unproductive.

Our meeting planning and facilitation experts find that meeting leaders consistently rate the effectiveness of their own meetings to be twice as effective as their attendees.   The truth is that most workplace meetings lack the context and purpose to be valuable. Attendees experience them as a confusing and unconnected mix of strategic, tactical, and administrative discussions.  This leaves participants rightfully disgruntled and disengaged.

The Role of Leadership in Meeting Effectiveness
Leading meetings might seem like a small part of a manager’s job, but meetings can make or break team effectiveness and team engagement.  Bad meetings come from bad leaders.  Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the meeting culture within an organization.

By setting clear expectations, respecting employees’ time, and modeling efficient meeting practices, leaders can influence behavior and drive change from the top down.

10 Assessment Strategies to Minimize Meetings in the Workplace
Meetings often fall short of their intended purpose while diverting time and attention away from critical tasks.  Let’s start with the workplace meeting basics.  Without even getting into the type of or instructional design of the meeting, stop all workplace meetings that do not follow these 10 meeting basics.

  1. Has it been made clear to all attendees why the meeting has been called?
  2. Are the agreed upon meeting outcomes tangible and measurable?
  3. Has an agenda been prepared and shared with times and assigned roles for various topics?
  4. Did the meeting start and end on time?
  5. Was a meeting required to achieve the desired outcomes or would a different approach have been better?
  6. Was any required pre-work communicated at least 2 days before the meeting?
  7. Did someone facilitate the meeting process?
  8. Were the right people with the right authority in attendance?
  9. Did you create enough psychological team safety to encourage open and honest discussions?
  10. Were meeting outcomes and next steps (who will do what by when) clearly articulated at the end of the meeting and shared with everyone within 2 days?

The Bottom Line
Sometimes meetings are necessary to help get you where you want to go.  For every meeting that you hold, make sure they are agenda-driven with a clear purpose, desired outcome, and the attendance of only key stakeholders.  Well-run meetings foster better decisions, enhance information flow, and improve team engagement.

To learn more about strategies to minimize meetings in the workplace, download 4 Field-Tested Keys of a Great Project Kickoff Meeting

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