Nothing kills productivity and innovation faster than having too many meetings. Recurring meetings are often the culprit. If you’re a middle manager, you likely spend 35% of your time in meetings. If you’re in upper-level management, make that 50%. Recurring meetings are problematic because they typically last about an hour and lack a clear agenda. Regular communication is important, but it’s key to ensure that your recurring meetings are focused and productive.
We’ve all been a part of weekly recurring meetings including 20+ people that have been going on for years. Everyone comes to the meeting because they are supposed to but they aren´t really getting anything out of it. Some people are even looking at their phones or doing work on their laptops during these meetings. Far too much time is spent in meetings that offer no value, and every minute spent in these meetings costs your company money. How can you fix this problem?
Priorities and projects quickly change, so a recurring meeting that was once useful may no longer be needed. Recurring meetings decay over time. If you have a recurring meeting on your calendar with an unclear purpose, revisit the meeting and see if it’s even necessary to keep. You might find that the original purpose of the meeting no longer applies.
Another problem is when you have a recurring meeting and colleagues who are busy working on an important project have to drop everything to attend the meeting.
Why waste your team’s time with a recurring meeting when they could be doing meaningful, productive work during that time instead? Teams need uninterrupted, heads-down time to accomplish great things. Redirect time spent in pointless meetings to designing and shipping products and carrying out other high-value activities in your organization.
When you set up a recurring meeting, write down the problem that you need the meeting to solve and send out an agenda for every meeting. Set an end date for the recurring meetings, such as 10 weeks. Then require the group to decide on whether or not to continue having the recurring meetings at the end of those 10 weeks.
In every meeting, assign each participant action items, so they feel like they are playing a role in the meeting. Only attendees who are willing to commit to completing action items by a specific date should be allowed to attend the meetings.
Nominate someone to be the meeting leader. The leader of a meeting doesn’t necessarily have to be the most senior person in the room. If it’s not the organizer of the meeting who is leading the meeting, then nominate a meeting leader within the first five minutes of the meeting.
Check the list of meeting attendees periodically to see if the same people still need to attend. You might notice that in the meeting action items, some people’s names aren’t showing up week after week. It might be time for them to be retired from the meeting.
Have a quick 1:1 meeting with the person to discuss what commitments they are making to the team and in the meeting. Frame it so that they don’t feel like they are being kicked out, but rather like they have ownership of the decision to leave.
Meetings with your team are still important. They allow you to build trust, boost morale, and improve productivity, just as long as you don’t overdo it. By getting unnecessary recurring meetings off people’s calendars and taking a more hands-off role in managing teams, your organization can get more done, increase performance, and boost morale.
The tools you use also affect productivity and performance. To maximize efficiency when planning and scheduling meetings, try using a meeting room booking system like Resource Central. A resource booking tool for Microsoft Outlook®, Office 365, and Exchange, Resource Central minimizes the time spent looking for and booking meeting rooms for recurring meetings.