We all know the feeling… sitting through an hour-long meeting that could have very well just been an email. Nobody likes wasting their time, and unnecessary meetings are one of the biggest distractions for employees trying to get their work done.
Unnecessary meetings contribute to worker burnout as well. When polled by Deloitte, 77% say they have experienced team member burnout at their current job. According to Fortune, 65% say that meetings keep them from completing their own work.
So how do we avoid ineffective meetings, team member burnout, and create meeting bliss and avoid meeting madness? Here's how we can eliminate unnecessary meetings to make the best use of our time and maintain productivity in the workplace.
Establish a Positive Meeting Culture
Create a Company-wide Meeting Calendar
Meet with Purpose
Step 1: Establish a positive meeting culture.
Use a calendar tool that allows you to see each other's schedules. Respect time off, don't request a meeting with someone at a time that would require them to do back-to-back calls without a break, Etc.
Schedule breaks for yourself and protect that time. Sometimes a brisk 15-minute walk is more productive than an hour-long meeting. Your brain needs time to process and think - give yourself that space.
Know your best times for productivity
If you are a morning person, manage your calendar accordingly. Understand your best times for thinking, learning, presenting, and collaborating. Maximize your most productive times of the day.
As executives, you are aware of the stress that comes from looking at your calendar and seeing an entire day full of meetings. It becomes almost impossible to retain information and productivity when you have a schedule full of meetings with varying topics. So be considerate of time and don't overschedule your employees with meetings.
Make it safe
Make meetings a safe space for your employees. Wherever you can, allow employees the autonomy of declining a meeting to get critical work done. A positive meeting culture is one where employees don't fear repercussions from denying a meeting that might not pertain to them.
To cap it off, make sure you're having fun with your meetings as much as possible! Entertaining openers, funny stories, tales of victory. All these contribute to enjoyable meetings. Allow your employees the opportunity to discuss successes and positive anecdotes. This creates meetings that your employees want to attend.Conduct a Meeting Audit
Take a look at all your meetings and make sure that you are still needed in all of these meetings. Are they required that often? Can they move from weekly to bi-weekly? If you run a meeting, check your attendee list, and remove those that aren't essential.
Step 2: Create a company-wide meeting calendar.
If you don't have a calendar tool where you can see all your company's regularly scheduled meetings in one place, figure out a way to do that now. This is the most effective way to streamline your meeting rhythms and eliminate waste. Prepare to be shocked, and don't be afraid to make some adjustments.
Here are some things you can do to streamline your Meeting Rhythms:
Schedule recurring meetings a year out
Fill in all the meetings that happen on a regular schedule - annual & quarterly planning, the executive team and weekly departmental meetings, monthly meetings, performance reviews, employee engagement activities, Etc.
Consider cross-functional projects
Fill in any cross-functional meetings that are occurring. Perhaps your sales and marketing teams meet bi-weekly to sync up, for example.
Adjust meetings quarterly if needed
Every quarter you are creating a new company and individual priorities. Are there any big projects that will require a working meeting or sync up this quarter? If so, add it to the calendar.
Look at it person-by-person
Consider not only what the calendar looks like from a company-wide perspective but also by person. For example, is your head of sales spending 35 hours weekly in meetings? If so, wouldn't you rather free them up to sell instead?
Eliminate waste & redundancy
Don't be afraid to try new things with your meeting rhythms. Make adjustments, eliminate wasteful meetings, change the frequency, or shake up the attendee list. If you have established a positive meeting culture, you should be able to do this without drama.
Synchronous vs. asynchronous work
Synchronous work needs to be done collaboratively, like a planning session or a performance review. Asynchronous work can be done on your own and shared with others, like a training session or a presentation. Avoid scheduling meetings that don't require collaboration, and consider a different way to deliver training or presentation. Perhaps you can record a video and share it with the team so they can watch it at the most productive time.
Step 3: Meet With Purpose!
Finally, for step three, meet with purpose!
Time is a valuable and expensive commodity, and asking someone for an hour of their time should not be done lightly. Every meeting should have a clear objective, a tight attendee list, a set agenda, and a specific duration.
This is where Rhythm Systems comes in to help:
Set up the meeting in Rhythm
The Meeting record in Rhythm prompts you to define an objective for every meeting. This Meeting will be "Successful if …."
Decide on agenda
Plan the meeting agenda to fully utilize the meeting time and avoid cutting into productivity. Ask for input from the team in advance by using the Comments feature. Time-block each agenda item and facilitate accordingly.
Assign prep-work if necessary
Rhythm allows you to assign prep work to employees before the meeting if applicable. For example, if your meeting objective is to come away with three new prospect campaigns, you can ask everyone to brainstorm their top 5 ideas in advance. You can create an Ideas Board on the Meeting record to collect those ideas and collaborate.
Record Tasks as you go
You can also record to-do list items as Tasks on the Meeting record. This is a great way to hold the team accountable for doing everything agreed upon during the meeting. Each Task has a due date and an owner.
If done correctly, an effective company-wide Meeting Rhythm and positive Meeting culture can be the fuel for achieving your company's overall strategy. It helps you grow with purpose, maintain your employee's health & productivity, retain great talent, and build a culture of accountability.