Some team members like nothing more than sitting in meetings and talking about what might or could be done. Great ideas may come out of these meetings, but only if there’s effective follow-up. The more typical occurrence is that a meeting is a cost without a corresponding revenue increase to an organization. A new meeting calculator, outlined in the Harvard Business Review, allows you to determine the cost of this activity and should prompt you to rethink your meeting policy.
Writing for Fast Company, Ben Schiller asks us to consider a typical business meeting. For example, a department meeting might include five staff members with an average salary of $60,000. If the meeting lasts an hour, the cost is about $200. If you’re holding this meeting every week of the year, the cost comes out to about $10,400. If you provide food and beverages at these meetings, there’s an additional expense. And these numbers don’t include the time that staff members spend preparing for meetings – especially getting there a few minutes early to socialize. While some people can argue that meetings are part of an organization’s culture, as a manager, you should be asking if the activities related to this weekly meeting justify the cost?
Probably not – especially if you are simply reviewing what has been accomplished by each staff member since the last meeting. Think about it. You are asking three other individuals to sit patiently and listen to what one other person has or hasn’t done in the past five days. Maybe this update could be posted on a central site where the individuals can quickly scan the information.
As 2018 begins and you see everyone’s calendars filling up with meetings, think about taking a fresh approach. Require the person setting the meeting to develop an agenda in advance. Ask them to follow up on action items assigned during the meeting so you can track outcomes. When a meeting agenda that looks a little weak comes your way, talk with the organizer and ask if the proposed items can be discussed between two individuals informally.
If you’re focused on your organization’s bottom line, you know – as the consultants highlighted in this article point out – "time is an organization’s scarcest – and often most squandered – resource." It’s easy to believe that staff members will be motivated to make up the time they’ve lost as a result of sitting in meetings. It’s far more likely that they have work-life balance on their minds and will head for the door when it’s quitting time. It’s up to you, as a manager, to ensure that time on the job is used efficiently by everyone in your department.