You’ve probably heard that old line that your average employee spends about five hours a week in meetings. The number is probably higher for some businesses (and definitely for virtual teams), but let’s say it’s true for the sake of simplicity.

Do the math: Taking into account the hourly rate you pay each employee, yourself and any freelancers/contractors you work with, how much are you paying your people to sit in meetings? You are probably feeling a little sick, right?

If those five hours were actually highly productive—as in every single one offered some legit business benefit—you might be able to justify spending so much of the workweek stuck in meetings. But, honestly, how many of your meetings are highly productive?

We’d go as far as saying that most of them are a big ‘ole waste of time—and your employees likely agree. In fact, here are the biggest complaints employees have about meetings at work:

  • Meeting at the worst possible time. Right before a deadline, after 3 p.m. on Friday or first thing Monday morning are terrible times to expect employees to be focused on the topic. Unless it is absolutely critical, schedule meetings Tuesday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also be mindful of time differences.
  • Scheduling last-minute mandatory meetings. Yes, you will need to schedule emergency meetings, but don’t make it the norm. Offer attendees as much time as possible to prepare for each meeting. Expecting them to drop everything because a time suddenly becomes convenient for you steals their focus and hurts their productivity.
  • Gathering for no good reason. That weekly “jam session” isn’t necessary if you have nothing new to jam about. And those meetings scheduled to simply share information—without seeking input or fielding questions from attendees—should never be scheduled. Send a memo or email with all the details instead. Or come up with some other alternative. Schedule meetings only when collaboration, interaction and attendee participation is required.
  • Failing to plan the meeting. Every meeting should have specific objectives that you share with staff ahead of time. Create an agenda that includes the topics you want to discuss and a time limit for each to ensure that you cover your top priorities. If topics come up that aren’t on the agenda, redirect everyone back to it. Explain that you will revisit the topic at the end of the meeting if there is time or you will plan to discuss it another day.
  • Inviting everyone. Trust us. People’s feelings aren’t going to be hurt if you don’t invite them to a meeting they have no business attending. Only include people who can contribute or who will learn something or benefit in some other way. Otherwise, you’ll have some people sitting there bored out of their minds—when they could be doing their jobs.
  • Making everyone stay for the entire scheduled time. Some people will only need to be in attendance for part of the meeting. Let them get back to work when that part is over. And for the love of all that is good in this world, if you end early, dismiss everyone! Don’t linger or add new agenda items just to fill the time. Avoid using the default time-frames in whatever scheduling software you use too. Instead, schedule the exact amount of time you think you will need to meet your objectives, even if it is only 10 minutes.
  • Lecturing your team. If you are the only one talking, attendees are bored and frustrated. While you probably need to lead the meeting and make sure everyone is staying focused and on track, each person in attendance should be talking and offering input. You definitely should not be monopolizing the conversation.
  • Refusing to address bad behavior. People who continuously go off on tangents, complain, hold side conversations, shoot down everyone’s ideas, or become heated and aggressive ruin meetings. Have the backbone to step in and put an end to rude or unproductive behaviors.
  • Ignoring attendees’ feedback. We get it. You’re the boss, but if you expect everyone to agree with every suggestion you make or you shoot down everyone’s ideas, you are stunting creativity and killing innovation. If you quiet people enough, they’ll stop talking altogether. Encourage everyone to share their input, listen carefully, evaluate the feedback and put into action the good ideas.
  • Ending without assigning action items. What is the point of meeting if you don’t have a plan for moving forward? Assign action items and set deadlines for completing them. Most important: Hold employees accountable for following through.

This post was reprinted with permission from Netrist. Serving a wide range of industries, Netrist creates software systems to support your core business and APIs for your customers to use.

Photo Credit:

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}