Love ‘em or hate ‘em, meetings form a major part of work communication and management strategies. Google currently reports results from recent surveys citing that on average 16 hours a week can be spent in meetings…
Furthermore, it’s with the view that four of those hours are wasted. Others report that during your career you may attend 6240 meetings and that 70% of attendees in those meetings will zone out, choosing to doodle, stare out the window or even fall asleep!
Have you ever considered the cost of calling a meeting? Run your eye around the table and just think about the hourly rate of the attendees, the travel time, the ad hoc expenses of the room and facility. Consider whether the benefit is worth that cost.
However, if run effectively, meetings can be fantastic forums for problem resolution, engagement, strategic planning, and goal achievement.
5 ways you can improve the value you get from your meetings are:
Traditionally Terms of Reference (referred to as ToR) have been used for Board-level Committees, however it is good practice to think about having some form of Terms of Reference for all meetings. Defining the purpose and goals not only keeps the meeting on track but it ensures that you match the attendee list to the purpose. Include roles and responsibilities so each member is aware of why they are attending and what their contribution needs to be. Think about having a summary of the ToR at the top of each agenda to ensure each and every meeting remains focused.
The Chair can make or break a meeting so ensure that the Chair understands what that role is and has the skills to perform in it. The Chair can use the ToR (see paragraph above) to ensure the meeting remains focused on purpose. It is vital to have a good relationship with the minute taker to ensure that the organisation and procedural management of the meeting is efficient. The Chair needs to ensure that everyone contributes and that every seat adds value. They have the challenging job of managing conflict and ensuring that all participants are engaged and remain engaged, for the duration of the meeting.
Be aware of the optimum time for your meeting. This may vary depending on your organisation and the participants. Timing can impact on attendance levels, participation levels and productivity so it is important to get it right.
Also, think about the duration of the meeting. Multiple short duration meetings may be more productive than one lengthy meeting so consider moving your monthly 3-hour marathon meeting to three one hour slots during the month and managing the agenda accordingly.
Do you have meeting etiquette documented and signed up to? Having clear rules and expectations in regards to meeting behaviour can make all the difference. Do attendees arrive 5 minutes before the start time to enable a prompt start? Do attendees have side discussions whilst business is being conducted? If your participants bring tablets or laptops with them, is it understood that they should not be doing other work or be connected to the Wifi?
- And finally are you clear on what a meeting is? A forum in which there can be an exchange of information and debate to resolve pre-identified issues. It is not a briefing where one person is passing on information. Check what meetings could be replaced with a shorter briefing. Think about doing that standing up to ensure it stays focused.
- Define everyone’s role (in the ToR) and remove people from the membership who do not have a clear role or add value.
- Define the agenda clearly – including who is responsible for presenting each item, how much time they have for the item, and in the minutes clearly, define the action or conclusion.
If you focus on these 5 approaches for your meetings, you should see an improvement in attendance, attitude, productivity and value.
If you need help reviewing how you manage your meetings, or even doing a consultation with your team as to what is needed, we would be happy to provide the HR support and advice needed. Here at MAD-HR we provide a variety of ad-hoc HR services, along with strategic HR development and are always happy to have a chat and see how we can help support your business growth. Give us a call on 01473 360160 to find out more.