It is estimated that meetings consume more than two days a week of an executive’s time and 15% of an organization’s collective time. It's no wonder many executives are exclaiming, "We must stop meeting like this!" to their supervisory and management teams.
What we sometimes see are organizations that do not exercise control over the process. It results in meetings being scheduled at will, with little regard for how long they should be or who should attend. People must be held accountable for meetings scheduled. Meeting guidelines, such as the duration and number of participants, should be strictly enforced.
Part of every analysis we conduct prior to a client engagement is time spent observing people as they execute daily tasks. This includes the routine meetings at various levels to determine their effectiveness. What we have discovered is a significant gap between best and actual practices.
Here are some statistics we compiled from more than 269 client meetings at 235 different companies from around the world:
- Only 41% had the right agenda
- 64% did not review or agree upon an action plan
- 67% did not define responsibilities or establish deadlines
So why is this happening? Most of the problems we found are related to behaviors and the company culture -- not enforcing work standards or failing to reward those that exemplify the core values of the organization.Keys to a productive meeting
Characteristics of an effective meeting include clear agendas, solid preparation, starting on time and early endings when productivity starts to decline. A zero-based time budget, one that is similar to a bank account, is used to “fund” meetings with a limited amount of valued time – motivating people to make the most of every opportunity. Other best practices include:
- Follow the same standards others are expected to follow when conducting a meeting
- Communicate the purpose to others beforehand
- Assess how often routine meetings need to take place – challenge the status quo
- Carefully consider the location of the meeting
- Prepare the agenda and send to participants ahead of time
- Start and finish the meeting on time
- Stick to the agenda – avoid getting sidetracked
- Consider using a facilitator when necessary to help manage the meeting
- End meetings with clear actions, responsibilities and deadlines
- Follow up
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