Unnecessary meetings are not only a waste of time—they're a waste of your organization's money, Jeff Haden writes for Inc. magazine.
The next time you're in a meeting, Haden suggests calculating one hour's worth of salary for every person in the room—and asking yourself if you would pay that cost to hold this meeting, if it were up to you.
Haden suggests seven kinds of meetings that probably aren't worth the cost of holding.
1. Informational meetings
Haden argues that meetings should be reserved for important decision-making, not recaps, reviews, or discussions. If you see those words on the meeting's agenda, that's a red flag, Haden writes.
If you do need to share information, then Haden recommends sending an email.
2. Meetings with short agendas
Because we are so used to working with our calendars using 30 or 60 minute blocks of time, we automatically assume that every meeting needs to last that long, writes Haden. But he recommends assessing how much time the meeting really needs to last. Could you accomplish your agenda in 10 minutes? If you could, then Haden proposes scheduling just 10 minutes, not the default 30 minutes—or consider canceling the meeting entirely.
3. Meetings that start when everyone arrives
Too often, the organizers of a meeting won't start it until all participants are present. Until then, everyone in the room just chats.
Haden argues that it wouldn't be okay for hourly employees to clock in, then spend 10 minutes goofing off—so it shouldn't be okay for the people attending your meeting.
4. Meetings that involve "thinking out loud"
If someone in a meeting says they're just "thinking out loud," then that's a sign they aren't fully prepared, Haden writes. He argues that every participant should prepare their thoughts before the meeting and arrive ready to present them to the group. You can encourage this by sending all relevant information ahead of time.
5. Meetings that don't result in a to-do list
"Great meetings result in decisions, but a decision isn't really a decision if it's never carried out," Haden writes. He argues that every meeting should end with a clear to-do list, with each item assigned an owner and a due date.
6. Meetings that end with a recap
There's no need to review what everyone said in a meeting, Haden writes. He believes this reinforces that general discussion is an appropriate use of meeting time. Instead, Haden recommends closing the meeting by ensuring that every person knows the items and due dates on their personal to-do list.
7. Meetings that involve team bonding
"Great relationships happen when you produce tangible outcomes and achieve meaningful goals," not when you're sitting in a meeting, writes Haden. So instead of asking your team to sit in a meeting together, allow them to work toward the common goal, he writes (Haden, Inc., 7/10).
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