If you’re extremely fortunate, you will probably only have one meeting scheduled for the week ahead. If you’re like the rest of us, you might have about three/four meetings scheduled for each day of the week. The impact of meetings on productivity is a hardy perennial subject discussed in blogs and on social media.
More often than not meetings (i.e., official gatherings of a group of workers) are seen as a colossal waste of time, a drain on productivity and a waste of money; many people feel most meetings would be better of being scrapped altogether. One study revealed that the average worker endures about 16 hours of meetings every week. Preposterous, I know, and it sounds even worse when you consider that this works out at more than 800 hours in a year.
In an article for the Guardian, Stephen Archer, the director of performance improvement company Spring Partnerships, expresses his view that one in four meetings are totally “pointless”, with the same number being “ill-managed”. He opines in the article that meetings that are devoid of real objectives or “clarity on what is expected” of each member of the meeting should be jettisoned, as should those meetings that fail to set a time limit or which take too long.
This may be wishful thinking for most people. So how do those poor employees whose work life is one long meeting survive the dreaded company meeting? This great infographic from mindflash shows you the different survival strategies of your coworkers. You may recognise some of the characters described in the infographic and listed here:
- Bill the deflector
- Linda the jargonmeister
- Paula the artful dodger
- Martin the boomerang
- Conrad the old timer
- Agnes the realist
- Jerry the big leaguer
- Susan the pacifist
Think Outside the Box
If you can’t identify with Linda, Paula, Martin, Conrad, Agnes, Jerry or Susan, what can you do to improve the quality of your meetings? We’ve all heard of the usual have an agenda, a leader, a fixed start time, stop time and follow-up plan suggestions. But when you have to sit in a windowless room on the 25th floor, surely there must be something more inspiring? Try these suggestions, courtesy of Virgin founder Richard Branson:
- Set an inspiring theme once in a while, for example, Branson invites his team to come up with innovative solutions to address the world’s toughest challenges.
- Stimulate your team’s creative juices. Branson does this by convening an eclectic” group of people to his meetings, which have hosted a yoga teacher, an investment banker and a Silicon Valley consultant.
- Invite thought-provoking speakers to generate discussion.
- Have your meeting somewhere very different. Necker Island, perhaps? Failing that, try the park or something as simple as a stand-up meeting.
- Surprise your team. A treat, for example, “goes a long way.”
Bring laughter into the meeting. By far the best manager I have ever worked for used his natural, brilliant sense of humour to great effect. We looked forward to his meetings, the humour warmed us up and put us in a receptive frame of mind.
What strategies do you employ to get through meetings at work? Let me know - share your comments below!