Meetings can be the death of a business. Yet they seem to make some people feel important. For whatever reason, having a calendar of meetings seems to validate the existence of some, yet so many people leave meetings commenting that they are often a waste of time.
Research shows that staff meetings should be limited to 30 minutes, preferably held on a Tuesday morning, have an agenda, and never allow an ‘any other business’ section.
The topic was well debated at the Business Exposure Group with the following points being raised.
- Take the meeting responsibility seriously, and make attendance mandatory.
- Ensure that they are run on added value not just on habit. The value is in the team building, re-affirming core values, and explaining the bigger picture on a regular basis, to communicate and keep staff engaged with the business.
- Staff meetings are not for making decisions, they are for ratifying decisions.
- Ensure that meetings are for sharing information, and do not allow one individual to use it as an excuse to ‘show off’.
- Better decisions are made in meetings because group creative solutions are discovered.
- Meetings are an expensive resource. It can easily cost several hundred pounds of time spent, which is a reduction in profit and one that is often overlooked. So, ask if the issue can be better addressed in a simple email, can the issue wait for another time, or is it better to reduce the time waste of the group and sit down for a one to one with the individual that has the burning issue. Understanding the cost of unimportant meetings will result in fewer meetings being called and a workforce that is not just going with the flow.
Meetings do have enormous value if they are relevant, well controlled and have action points which are followed through, but many of the Business Exposure Group members felt that they struggled to keep the regular internal meetings fresh and engaging.
One of the members put forward an alternative approach to engage individuals, using the one to one discussion in an effective way. They explained that they received tremendous feedback and creativity from staff when they used one or more of the following questions.
- ‘What policies and ideas are getting in the way of you doing a better job?’
- ‘What special talent do you have that we are not using in the business?’
- ‘If you were the owner, what would you be concentrating on right now?’
- ‘What are you working on that has little value and what would you replace it with?’
- ‘What do you need to know about our Company/Industry that would help you do your job?’
How do you operate your meetings? Do you measure effectiveness and are staff and management held accountable?
In conclusion, it was felt that the follow up and follow through were the benefits of a meeting, not the meeting itself.