Meetings can be an essential part of running a business. However, too many meetings can actually halt productivity and waste valuable time. Did you know that each time an employee joins a meeting they immediately lose where they were in their thought process? After the meeting, research shows that it can then take up to 15 minutes for the employee to return to the same place in their thought process. Time is also lost before the meeting starts. When an employee knows that he or she has a meeting in the next 15 minutes, the employee will often fail to start a new task and just kill time until the meeting starts. As a result, an hour-long slot between two meetings can turn into only 30 minutes of productive work. This is usually not enough time to get anything meaningful done. If an employee attends multiple meetings a day, this will certainly add up, and you will end up paying your employee for a lot of lost time and lack of productivity.
How many is too many?
Time is not the only thing that is affected by too many meetings. If your business is centered on a meeting-driven culture, it can actually disempower some of your employees. In some instances, managers begin to rely on meetings to make decisions, with the need for everyone to be together in a room to share in the discussion and decision process. People feel like they have to contribute, even if their contribution is not meaningful. Others may even get offended if they are not included. This cycle promotes “group-think” and can make the decision-making process go on much longer than necessary.
Finally, the meetings themselves can often be a waste of time. This could be because attendees don’t plan properly to ensure the meeting runs efficiently, the meeting has numerous attendees who are not needed, or perhaps the meeting has become devalued over time because attendees are no longer putting forth the effort to make it a success. Whatever the reason, time is wasted and productivity is lost.
How Do You Avoid Too Many Meetings?
Meetings are not bad, they just need to be effective. Here are a few tips that the HR experts at Optimum Employer Solutions recommend to help you find the right balance with your company meetings:
- Make Sure Recurring Meetings Still Serve Their Purpose – Over time, recurring meetings can lose their impact if people don’t continue to put forth the effort. Organizers should plan carefully to make sure the meeting remains an efficient and productive use of time.
- Cut Down Meeting Time – Consider instituting a policy on meeting length. Research shows that the average meeting should be between 30 and 60 minutes. Meetings of more than one hour are usually wasteful and attendees are far more likely to burn out and get little done past the hour mark.
- Cut Down Meeting Size – Think long and hard about who really needs to attend your meetings. The larger the meeting, the harder it can be for actual work to get done and decisions to be made.
- Schedule Meetings at Optimum Times – The best time to schedule meetings is at the beginning or end of the workday. This creates large blocks of uninterrupted time during the remaining work day where employees can focus and get work done. You could also consider having only one day a week where people meet, such as a Wednesday, to break up the week and leave the remainder of the week for work.
- Encourage Decision-Making Autonomy – It is important to encourage your employees to make decisions outside of a group setting, then later share those decisions and the rationale behind them. This will empower people to make decisions they are capable of making on their own, as well as avoid “group-think,” while still allowing others the opportunity for feedback.