Office Meetings: The Ultimate Productivity Killer

A few weeks ago, in the post 7 Productivity Musts HR Pros Need to Know, I mentioned the need for HR pros and other executives to plan meetings strategically in order to be as productive as possible. Aside from planning meetings strategically, there are many other things you can do, or not do, to ensure meetings don’t interfere with work. In Ilya Pozin’s LinkedIn article, Why Business Meetings Kill Productivity, he makes the case for keeping office meetings to a minimum.

Don’t Let Meetings Kill Productivity

“The Centre for Economics and Business Research reported that office workers spend an average of four hours per week in meetings. Not surprisingly, these same workers reported feeling like half of that time is wasted.” Pozin write.

“Additionally, a Salary.com survey reported 47 percent of workers say meetings are the No. 1 time-waster at the office.” He continues.

So what can HR pros do to make sure meetings are efficient, and not time-wasters? Pozin lays out five suggestions in his article. The suggestions were created by noted time-management and productivity expert Tony Wong, and relayed to Pozin in a discussion. In addition to the five mentioned by Wong I’ve listed below, I included my tip about meeting planning from my previously mentioned post.

1. Allot a minimum amount of time, and stick to it.

Wong suggest that instead of scheduling a brief meeting for an entire hour, shoot for a half an hour instead. Begin meetings on time, regardless whether or not everyone is in attendance. If you don’t cover everything in that half hour, stop the meeting anyways. Any missed information can be relayed via email, or otherwise. The less time your employees spend in meetings, the more time they’ll spend working.

2. Limit the number of employees who attend.

The more people invited to attend a meeting, the less likely it is to be productive. Try to keep invites limited to those on a need-to-know basis. If you have an announcement to make to your entire staff, forgo the meeting and send a mass email instead.

3. Choose the meetings goal or objective, and don’t stray from it.

Most of the time, meetings are held to inform employees about a previously made decision. Whatever the information you’re trying to convey may be, don’t stray from it. Unless otherwise specified, meetings are not meant to be a discussion. So stick to your objectives, and it should help keep meetings efficient and productive. Stay on task, and your employees will too.

4. Specify the type of meeting you’re holding.

Whether it be a brainstorming session, a work session, or a policy briefing, be sure to let everyone know what to expect before hand. Not only will it help employees be more prepared, but it will help the meeting stay brief and on task as well. Knowing what to expect is helpful both for HR pros and other executives, and the employees in attendance.

5. Eliminate mistakes, and unproductive patterns.

Do you have a tendency to ramble on, or get off-course in meetings? If the answer is yes, then you should figure out ways to eliminate these ineffective patterns in meetings the best you can. By having the meeting leader be laser-focused, efficient, and effective, it will help employees stay engaged, and meetings stay brief and on-task.

6. Plan your meeting times strategically.

The best time of day to schedule a meeting is first thing in the morning. This avoids the inevitable time-waste associated with preparing for the meeting, among other things. When meetings are held in the afternoon, they can interrupt work flow, and have a devastating effect on a days productivity.

“A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces, each too small to do anything hard in.” Says Paul Graham from YCombinator.

Keeping Meetings Productive

Meetings aren’t inherently unproductive, in fact, they are normally held with productivity in mind. Unfortunately, they become unproductive for a number of reasons. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to stay on track, and keep meetings as productive as possible.

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Aaron

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