“We will continue to hold these meetings until we figure out why no work is getting done!”

They say behind every good joke is the truth.

Many businesses spend way too much time in meetings. Hell, I’ve heard of people holding meetings to plan other meetings!

Raise your hand if you have ever attended a meeting that started late, ran long, quickly went off topic, offered no value or had no agenda.

Sadly, it seems meetings are getting longer, becoming less efficient and generating fewer results. In an article I read by the Harvard Business Review (I note this to give them proper credit and to make myself sound really, really smart for reading such an academic periodical), “Executives spend an average of 23 hours per week in meetings, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. And that doesn’t even include all the impromptu gatherings that don’t make it onto the schedule.”

I find it very hard to believe that this is the most effective and efficient use of a leader’s time.

Taking it a step further, the HBR surveyed 182 senior managers from a range of industries and concluded the following: 

  • 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work
  • 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient
  • 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking
  • 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together

Wow, do these types of meetings sound like a waste of time or what? Considering time is, without question, our most valuable resource, these meetings are being held at an astronomical price. Every minute spent in an unproductive meeting is a minute not being invested in purposeful work. This is work that requires focus, creativity, and produces results (AKA profits).

With so much time being drained by meetings, most executives and employees feel they have to come to work early, stay late and use weekends to GSD. (Get Sh-t Done!) This negatively impacts their happiness and morale and the organization’s culture and bottom line.

How can this be resolved?

Here are 3 tips for executives and managers to treat meetings like a seasoned basketball coach uses time-outs:

  1. Only call them when absolutely necessary. A college basketball coach, like 2018 NCAA Champion Jay Wright, gets a finite number of time-outs at the beginning of every game (four 75-second full time-outs and two 30-second time-outs). So they must use them strategically and only call them when they really need to. Choose your battles wisely. Your team will tune you out. The refrigerator in your kitchen makes noise and you no longer hear it. As a leader, don’t become a refrigerator.
  2. Be direct, purposeful, and time conscious. When you only have 30-75 seconds to ‘meet’ – you must be direct and purposeful! You don’t have a choice! Give your team the necessary info and instruction they need to elevate their performance. No fluff. Respect the fact that their time is just as valuable as yours.
  3. Make sure they leave with confidence and direction. Make sure you end every meeting in the emotional state you want them in for whatever they are doing next, which 99% of the time should be positive, optimistic, and confident. End meetings on a high note since that is what they will remember.  When speaking, make sure you use ‘us’ and ‘we’ more than you use   ‘I’ and ‘me’. If not, you will create a subconscious barrier between you and your team. You will appear ‘me’ driven and not ‘we’ driven. And that will erode the entire purpose of the meeting!

Alright, I gotta go, I have a meeting…

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