Wednesday February 24, 2016
How often do you find yourself in senseless meetings each week? My guess is, you scoffed at this question, mentally tallying up the staggering number of times “Meeting” has ended up on your calendar.
So when did companies decide to ignore the inevitable inefficiency of meetings?
Obviously team meetings can help collect ideas, and they have potential for powerful results. But far too often collaboration problems, as we describe here, come together to derail your productivity.
But you can reclaim countless hours, save money, and improve your company culture by taking steps to reduce meetings and to streamline the ones that are truly necessary.
Ask yourself these three questions below before scheduling each and every meeting. These simple reality checks will help you and your employees reclaim valuable hours of company time every day, week, and year.
Panicking about how you can change your meeting strategy and still keep your team on the same page? Don’t worry — we’ll help you navigate those tough catch-22s as well!
Question 1: Is an in-person meeting truly necessary?
This is the ultimate question, right? You have the potential to bypass so many meetings just by setting firm criteria for what warrants an in-person meeting. And yet, so many business owners default to setting a meeting before even exploring other options.
Take a look at these tips to help you decide.
- Simply trying to give a business update? You probably don’t need a full meeting.
- Could you solve the problem or answer the question with a phone call or email? You definitely do not need a meeting.
- Requiring teammates to travel when they could have called or made a video chat? Weigh the cost of that employee’s travel and time against the importance of having a face-to-face meeting.
The Catch-22: But isn’t it easier to just have a meeting?
Meetings became a part of our office culture for a reason. They can be a quick and easy way to relay critical information between the team and management. They give everyone the chance to give input. And they help employees in different departments to coordinate their schedules to accomplish larger goals.
So how is it possible to cut out meetings without also crippling your business’s ability to communicate internally?
"Cut out #meetings without also crippling your #smallbiz’s ability to communicate internally." [Tweet this]
2. What are you trying to accomplish with this meeting?
Any productive meeting must have a goal. If you don’t have a clear objective like “solve the abandoned cart trend,” your meeting is already pointless. The meeting’s leader (whoever set the meeting) is responsible for determining a main objective and strategies to get there.
Here are a couple examples:
- Are you looking for updates on assignments from the last meeting? Begin with those. Review what was discussed last time and get new information from your team.
- Looking for input about a specific project? Write down open-ended, thought provoking questions that encourage each member of your team to form a suggestion. Maybe think of some short activities the team can work on in the meeting.
The point is, don’t try to wing it. Doing so will undoubtedly lead to an unproductive meeting and a less productive day. Have topics you want to address or don’t have the meeting.
The Catch-22: But what if the meeting needs to cover...everything?
When your whole business feels like a whirlwind on your shoulders, how can you possibly narrow down a weekly meeting into just a few clear objectives?
What’s worse, that whirlwind moves without you, too! How can you set clear objectives without knowing what each team member has worked on since the last meeting?
This mindset is dangerous because it creates a constant cycle of meetings in which you’re trying to receive updates about projects while simultaneously hindering employees from working on getting the results you need!
3. Who needs to be at your meeting?
How often do you include the whole office in a meeting, only to have people not involved with a project distracting the people that really need to be there? Why have people there if they won’t have anything to contribute? Every single person in your meeting needs a defined role.
The Catch-22: But how will the team stay up-to-date?
If you’re like many small business owners, each and every member of your team is an important piece to the puzzle that is your company. The idea of leaving anyone out of a meeting simply doesn’t make sense for a variety of reasons.
"Every member of your team is an important piece to the puzzle that is your company." [Tweet this]
Often times, the entire team has had a role in the project at one time, or will in the future. Additionally, other tasks will directly impact or be impacted by this project, so why not keep everyone up-to-date on the information discussed?
How to Replace Meetings with a Digital Workplace
If you found yourself nodding along with those fundamental small business catch-22s, the root problem goes deeper than needing fewer meetings.
Investing in the proper tools can do more than just reduce the number of meetings necessary in your office. They can improve communication across your business before, during, and after meetings, so you get the most return on that time you spend in conversation with your team.
A cutting edge tool in this space, the Workflow Timeline from AllProWebTools, provides a live feed of all your essential business updates, available to everyone in real time whether they’re remote, in-office, or in a meeting! You can instantly see the status of your products, customers, leads, and projects through automatic updates and notes written by and for your team.
You can also get details on how everyone is spending their time at work with the Timecard system automatically available within the Timeline. No more interrupting productivity for status updates on how projects are coming along.
Collaborative tasks also automatically post to the Workflow Timeline, so you can see how your team is partnering on projects, understand their roles, and see how they’ve prioritized their day.
The Workflow Timeline brings you these updates live, so you never miss a beat. Now you can:
- Cancel unnecessary status update meetings. Having a digital record in the Workflow Timeline is much easier than trying to wrangle the team together to cover these updates each morning.
- Address a clear purpose to your meetings without having to waste time asking tons of questions. Focus your meetings on the specific projects most pertinent to your team that day or that week. Much easier than the juggling act of covering everything in the meeting room!
- Bring in people most pertinent to the project meeting based off their Task list and schedule the meetings around their priorities. You can still keep those who weren’t in the meeting informed by putting detailed notes about the meeting in the Timeline.
See how fast and easy it is? More so than your average office meeting, that’s for sure!
How do you keep your meetings productive, relevant, and efficient, without sacrificing clear communication? Let us know in the comments!