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Eliminate Excess Meetings

February 3 2014

Six Tips to Eliminate Excess Meetings

  1. Encourage Accessibility. Many times meetings are scheduled because decision makers have been inaccessible. They are holed up in their office with the door closed all day, or they may be road warriors that rarely return phone calls or emails. Encourage these key decision makers to make themselves accessible for quick questions, return calls and prompt email replies. This will eliminate the need to drag them, and a whole bunch of other people, into a meeting.
  2. Use a Good Project Management Tool. Affordable project management tools have reached a level of simplicity and sophistication that just a few years ago was reserved for expensive enterprise level solutions. Take advantage of these tools to do things that otherwise call for a meeting: task assignment, collaboration, and discussions. These can all occur virtually and eliminate the need for scheduling another meeting.
  3. Change Your Culture. Unnecessary meetings can be a result of people not wanting to make their own decisions. They may not realize they have permission to make decisions on their own. Work on changing your culture from one of indecision to it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. Good people will make good decisions. Trust them to do the right thing without having to call a meeting for every decision. They will infrequently also make bad decisions. Work with them to show them what they could have done differently, but don’t chastise them to the point that they revert to the old culture of meeting madness.
  4. Know How Much Your Meetings Cost. Understanding the cost of personnel when you hold a meeting can be an eye opener. A one hour meeting with eight average-salaried employees will easily run into the hundreds of dollars. In a mid to large sized company it quickly adds up to up to thousands of dollars spent weekly just on meetings! Is there a better use of everyone’s time that provides a greater ROI to the company? Most likely, there is.
  5. Review the Need for Recurring Meetings. Project managers love recurring meetings. When a project starts out, one of the first things we typically do is set up a weekly meeting where everyone can touch base about the project. These meetings are invaluable during the project’s early days, but they begin to lose their utility as the project progresses. Review the frequency of your recurring meetings to see if perhaps they could be moved to every other week, or maybe even once a month if things are going well with the project.
  6. Pay Attention. You need to lay ground rules at the outset of meetings that encourages everyone to pay attention. Kindly remind them to take their hands off their laptops, check their digital devices at the door, keep their eyes up, be attentive and engage. It’s a waste of your time if you have to schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss something that was covered – but that they didn’t catch!

Meetings are indispensible when it comes to sharing information, collaborating, and making decisions. However, be mindful that meetings can also be time wasters and productivity killers. Implement these suggestions and you will easily gain up to a full day of your work life back each week!