9:30am all hands on-deck meeting. 11:00am creative team gathering. 1:30pm account team meeting. 4pm specific project meeting. Rinse, repeat. So many meetings, so much time spent in our society today. Even when an office meeting is highly productive there are countless collateral minutes lost to the ritual: tearing away from something else, gathering up the necessary accessories, getting a beverage, shuffling around, sitting, waiting for stragglers, introductions and summaries, conclusions, more shuffling and then grinding back up to speed on a new task — only to remember that you have another meeting in 15 minutes. It’s a problem all the caffeine in the world can’t fix. And it is a problem that EVERY office has to deal with on a daily basis. It is time to get a handle on your calendar.
In an office with many moving parts, meetings are crucial. It’s how we check in, circle back, touch base. It’s how the right hand reacquaints itself with the left. They serve a very important function and we need to have them. But do we need to have so many? Is your office being held hostage by meeting madness? Is there a middle ground, something in between endlessly stagnating around a table and utter chaos? It seems as if this is common place for corporate America.
In thinking about this from a strategic how-to-tackle perspective, here are three steps to think about before you schedule that next meeting while you maximize daily productivity and keep morale streaming upward.
- Analyze the need. Don’t have meetings just because you’re supposed to. What is the objective? Is there actual information that needs to be exchanged? Do ideas need to be generated? Does a vote need to be taken? Can it be done online in an e-environment via Slack or a similar tool instead?
- Set limits. The workday is not merely a stack of time slots waiting to be filled with meetings. For maximum productivity, the day needs to breathe and individual work honored. Schedule meetings in strategic places where they are a welcome break instead of a frustrating interruption.
- Make it emotion-positive. Humans enjoy good company. Face-to-face interaction is an important part of teamwork and has no substitute. It is impossible to high-five in person and over an instant message like Slack. When you have a meeting, seize the opportunity to lift your team and build motivation. Everyone should be walking back to their desks with a spring in their step.
Office culture is sometimes the victim of its own habits. Just because we’ve always done it a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the best way. Meetings may be necessary, but they don’t have to be evil — maybe all we need is better meetings, less often.
Is meeting madness killing your productivity? Comment below.