Meetings ! Meetings ! Meetings ! That is all that senior personnel seem to be doing in office. There are meetings to discuss targets, objectives, strategies, personnel, training, costs, business practices and many more. Seniors talk about these lofty things while juniors have meetings to share information, parcel out work, solve local problems and discuss their futures.
Then there are meetings about meetings – the when, where, how, why and what of future meetings. In most organizations there are too many meetings, they take too long and accomplish very little.
More emphasis on meetings
Just seems a total waste of man-hours, energy, money and productivity. Not all meetings are bad – some are necessary to move the business ahead but today there is more emphasis on meetings and less on actual work output which can result in negative returns for the company – profit-wise, image-wise, reputation-wise.
Many meetings do not focus on the issues to be discussed. There is also no fixed purpose or agenda or a structure to the meeting. Nobody is prepared for the meeting because nobody knows what is to be discussed. Hence, there is a tendency to go off-track and talk about unrelated matters which quite often end up eating into the time allotted for the business in hand.
Scheduled without a time limit
Meetings are scheduled without a time limit – so they continue to go on and on and on. By fixing the time – a short period actually – it is possible to stick to the point, discuss critical matters and go back to one’s duties without loss of productivity.
In large meetings, those with good ideas and more to contribute can get overshadowed by those who have less to say but insist on being heard. In such cases small one-on-one meetings will be better suited to deal with issues.
In many cases, people who attend meetings are not connected to the matters being talked about. The more such people are included in meetings, the more there will be out-of-context discussions and waste of time and productivity. E.g. look at the number of man-hours tied up in a one-hour meeting – for every additional unnecessary person attending that meeting, there is one hour of work not being done. Multiply by the number of such people and the number of meetings in a business year and you will be astounded at the hours of potential work that your company has frittered away.
In many cases you see people doing “other things” like sending text messages , attending phone calls or just “working on their laptops, some are not listening and others fall asleep – this is unprofessional and again a waste of time.
Following up on matters discussed
Following up on matters discussed at the meetings are rare – so why were these meetings held in the first place? So more meetings are called to discuss the same issues and waste more time and money.
Executives spend the time immediately before the meeting waiting for the meeting. So they do not start any other work. Or if they are in the middle of work, they have to leave it partly done and go attend the meeting. So there is a loss of real output and time and hence money.
When seniors attend meetings, juniors use the time to do things other than their actual work – they go for coffee breaks, or gossip or play games on their computers. Human nature being what it is, there is a need for the supervisors to stay on top of their teams and ensure that work gets done.
Save time, increase productivity
Though people believe they are working, when they are in meetings they don’t actually work. They talk about work and how to do it or improve it or circumvent it or solve problems. There is no action, its only talk. This time can be better spent by getting down and resolving issues after a short meeting ( if necessary) to discuss relevant points on how to deal with a particular issue.
Research has shown that corporate executives spend 40-50% of their time attending meetings – a major waste, don’t you think ? Resources can be better utilized if companies keep their meetings short, focused and with limited attendees to save time and increase productivity.