Meetings – how to make them more effective
I have attended an immense number of meetings where I have sat there and wondered why? Why am I here? What is the purpose of me being here? What is the objective of this meeting? And what else could I be doing rather than being sat here? And I am definitely not the only one who has asked these questions.
The time wasted is frightening!
It is frightening how much time and therefore money UK business wastes in pointless meetings. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebu), workers waste 2 hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week. This costs the UK economy over £26 billion a year! This statistic is even worse when we look at the public sector. According to a survey conducted in 2013 (Management Today, 2016) the time spent in pointless meetings is even higher and that civil servants spend an epic 22 hours a week in meetings. It estimates that a third of that time is surplus to requirements. For middle managers, it is likely to be 35% of their time in meetings and for senior managers it can be upwards of 50% of their time (Themuse,2016).
How much does it cost?
This is not rocket science! If you take your own salary and divide that by 228 days (I have based this calculation on 5 weeks annual leave plus 8 bank holidays), then divide it further by 8 hours per day; this will give you your average hourly pay e.g.
Average Middle Manager Salary – £50,750 (Glassdoor,2016)
50,750/228 = £222.58 per day
222.58/8 = £27.82 per hour
Using the above statistic, this means that 79.8 days are spent in meetings which equates to a whopping 638.4 hours per year. This will cost the organisation £17,760 per year per middle manager! That doesn’t even take into account travel time, expenses or the cost of hosting the meeting and providing refreshments – OMG!
Now work out how many hours you have spent over the last month sat in meetings that were pointless – Frightening isn’t it?
Consider how much time is being wasted by our own government in meetings that seem to have no result especially in relation to Brexit – months on and there is still no plan, yet we as tax payers have had our hard-earned money wasted in paying for these meetings that haven’t achieved a thing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37983948
What can you do?
If you were wasting your own money, you most certainly would do something about it, wouldn’t you? So what can we do to ensure that we are not the ones who are setting up these pointless meetings and wasting such vast amounts of money?
Here are some ideas for you:
- Is it really necessary? – Ask yourself this question. Are you setting up a meeting because it is habit or is it vitally important that your meeting goes ahead?
- How much time is required? – Consider whether holding a lengthy meeting is required or less is more e.g. 10 at 10 – 10 minutes catch up at 10 o’clock.
- Who should be there? – Don’t be a “time stealer”. Consider who is vital to the meeting and what their objective is for being there? If you can’t answer this then you are wasting their time.
- Where does it need to be hosted? – Do people actually have to physically attend or could your meeting be hosted virtually? There is so much technology available these days that mean you can take advantage of video, audio and online tools. This allows your delegates to attend from all over the world but without the travel.
- Ensure your meeting is highly productive – answer the above questions so you can plan to ensure your meeting is a success:
- Ensure you send out an agenda and any other supporting information in plenty of time so that your delegates can see what their objective is for attending and can prepare accordingly.
- Keep to strict time deadlines within the meeting by allocating time to each agenda point.
- Engage all participants and ensure you control your “meeting hoggers” who like the sound of their own voices.
- Don’t digress. Remember to establish your objectives for the meeting and then to ensure that you can achieve them. You can itemise any other discussions for focus either in the next meeting or using alternative media.
Your next meeting
If you ensure that you follow the above guidelines then you can at least sleep at night knowing that you are not contributing to the millions of hours wasted in UK business sat in pointless meetings. Next time you receive a meeting invite and can’t see why you need to be there, then challenge it. Ask the most important question relating to your attendance – What is my objective for attending this meeting? If you can’t answer this, then you should decline and focus your attention on more productive activity
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