If you are the boss, you probably absolutely love them.

If you’re the one invited to attend, then the chances it’s not something you ‘re looking forward to.

Why is this?

Well, it’s probably to do with the fact, that most meetings are very badly planned – if planned at all of course!

A time is set along with a duration. You may even be given an agenda.

However, the boss gets caught up. The meeting starts late. The boss wants to talk about the problem he just encountered that just made him late. No. It’s not a topic linked to the meeting. No. It’s not on the agenda. No. It doesn’t involve half the people attending. But, the boss wants it off his chest, wants others opinions, and most importantly thinks everyone should understand these experiences….

Eventually you get on to the agenda. But no, it doesn’t run to order. There’s confusion and distraction. The meeting drags on. It ends with some loose action points being taken on by various people, but everyone knows, it’s highly unlikely that these will be followed up….

Now, if you’re the boss, I want you to first consider what is the true cost of this meeting?

What is the hourly rate plus on-costs of every single person in attendance, including you?

What is the cost of taking them off their job? What would they be doing if not in meeting?

What is your overhead recovery percentage? So, in other words, if you spend this total amount of money, how much revenue would you expect to generate?

If your business is going to be successful then you have to look at how you are utilising all your business assets, and time, well, that is surely one of the most important and biggest costs to any organisation.

This is always amongst the first areas  I analyse when I go in to a business. It’s what we call low hanging fruit. Generally, immediate gains can be had by reviewing meetings.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Meetings are vitally important. Your people need to know what is going on, they need to contribute towards the resolution of problems, business and goal achievement. However, there are many ways to spread information and meetings are not necessarily the best use of resources.

When meetings happen all too often . When they’re disorganised. When they run on and on and on. You miss one of your biggest and greatest opportunities. And, that is to inspire, motivate and include your team. Instead, your team feel disillusioned. They don’t want to be a part of this but know they have to. They know deep down, that it is a waste of their time. It will mean they have to probably catch up with their own work, in their own time. And, more importantly, they don’t believe anything will change as a result of it.

Your result: de-motivated, dis-engaged staff.

So, what can you do about it?

Review all your meetings

Make sure that for each meeting you address the following:

  1. What is the purpose? What outcome does this meeting produce? Is there a much more efficient or cost effective solution you could use instead? Such as emails, live chat, asana, trello etc. Keep the purpose of the meeting to the front of your mind and communicate this well.
  2. Who needs to be involved? Keep this to key stakeholders only. Make each person attending do all the other work beforehand if other people’s opinions are required. Likewise, it is their responsibility to feedback to their team as appropriate.
  3. Create an agenda and stick to it. This requires discipline and commitment. If you want your organisation to flourish and be successful then you need to focus on results and use your assets efficiently.
  4. Ask questions and listen. Too many meetings are dominated by the boss talking. There should not be many meetings that are dominated in this way, except of course for the occasional company announcement for instance. If you’ve called a meeting that involves other people, then this is your opportunity to gain information, advice, feedback, brainstorm ideas. It is for you to give 100% attention to those attending. Make them see that their presence is needed and they have an intricate role to play. As Boss you employ the best people possible. Let them contribute their expertise.
  5. Keep everyone involved. There will always be attendees who want to dominate the meeting along with those that prefer to keep a low profile. Often, it’s the quieter ones that can make some of the best contribution. Make a habit of involving them. Make sure everyone knows that their presence means involvement.
  6. Audit outcomes. Don’t just have a meeting and leave it there. Make sure there are always action points, and that these are followed up. At the start of each meeting, each attendee should report back on the progress they have made. Ensure you can measure the success of the meeting, by being able to demonstrate progress being made as a result of it.
  7. Stick to the times set. Respect and value your time and the time of others. Get the meeting started on time. If you are caught up with am emergency, have a deputy who can get it started in your absence. Make sure that the meeting ends when you say it will. If you show respect to others then you will earn their respect.
  8. Enforce meeting standards. Do not allow attendees to use their phones during meetings. Instigate a process for dealing with any true emergency situations, such as call the front desk and then disrupt the meeting. The use of mobile phones during working hours has become a major distraction. Set an example and, in the interests of everyone’s time and focus, ban the phones during meetings. Also ban any interruptions – again unless vitally important. If you have an efficient and effective organisational structure and reporting process in place, this should be entirely feasible.
  9. Set meetings for times in the day that work best for the organisation and for the people involved. If you generally work Monday to Friday, don’t make the meeting Friday afternoon. Here’s a good chance that people will have things they need to get done before the weekend – plus they will not be at their best.
  10. Keep records. Have someone – or everyone – jot down key points from the meeting – highlighting those points that need to be shared with others outside of the meeting. jot down action points, who is responsible and the date to be actioned by.
  11. Be positive. Even if there are serious problems to be dealt with, a positive vibe will have greater benefits than any negativity. yes, people need to understand the seriousness of the situation. But as the boss, it is your job to keep spirits high and ensure all possibilities are explored and actioned. you can’t create a positive outcome from a negative mindset.
  12. Thank people for attending and contributing.
  13. Write it all down. Add all of the above in to your operational standards and procedures.

Put all of these points in to every meeting you hold and see an improvement in progress towards your goals and general all round workplace satisfaction.