At a Glance
- Meetings are an essential part of corporate culture, but they can be a waste of time if not well-planned and executed.
- Effective meetings can help teams identify and address performance gaps, track progress, and share best practices.
- Organisations can improve the effectiveness of their meetings by implementing a meeting effectiveness measurement system and creating a culture of continuous improvement.
Meetings have long been an integral part of corporate culture. They are organised to bring employees and managers together to discuss key issues and make decisions. Some argue that they are a waste of time, while others believe that they can be an essential tool or platform for collaboration and productivity.
Research shows that meetings have become longer and more frequent over the past 50 years. According to one study, executives now spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings, up from 10 hours a week in the 1960s. While the pandemic has led to a reduction in the average length of meetings, the number of meetings attended by employees has increased by 13.5% on average.
This trend has raised concerns about the impact of meetings on businesses – whether the high number of meetings can lead to reduced productivity, employee burnout, and poor decision-making. However, others argue that meetings can be effective if they are well-planned and implemented.
In this article, we explore the impact of meetings on organisations and discuss how to improve the effectiveness of meetings.
The impact of ineffective meetings
The purpose of meetings can vary widely, but some common goals include understanding and exploring issues, providing a platform to explore new avenues and solutions, agreeing on actions, and enabling collaboration and fostering innovation.
However, many meetings fail to achieve their intended goals, and have a negative impact on businesses. A study of 20 organisations across a range of industries found that poor meeting behaviour such as complaining, going off topic or off agenda, and criticism, led to lower market share, less innovation, and less job security.
Pointless and unproductive meetings can be a waste of both individual and group time. Meetings that are too frequent, poorly timed, and poorly run, result in lost productivity, poor collaboration, and poor mental well-being for groups and individuals. Research by Harvard Business Review shows that unnecessary meetings can cost large companies up to US$100 million a year.
How to reduce the frequency and improve the effectiveness of meetings
Implementing a meeting effectiveness measurement system can help you run better meetings. The system uses a scoring method to ensure that all participants are aligned, engaged, and that objectives are being met. The system can include a checklist covering the following aspects:
1. Before the meeting (preparation)
Before the meeting, careful planning is essential. To improve the quality of meetings, consider the following:
- Define the meeting objectives: Determine the meeting objectives and communicate them to all participants in advance to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands the purpose and expected outcomes.
- Selective attendance: Assess whether everyone is needed at the meeting. Can some people receive optional invitations?
- Timely notification: Give participants sufficient notice and provide relevant documents, including agendas, materials, previous action logs, and minutes from previous meetings.
2. During the meeting (facilitation and participation)
All meetings should have an impartial facilitator to guide discussion and employee participation. The facilitator should:
- Establish and enforce ground rules to maintain order and ensure a productive atmosphere.
- Keep the meeting on track by following the agenda to guide discussions.
- Encourage concise and focused discussions that contribute to the objectives or intended outcomes of the meeting.
- Ensure that all discussions are summarised, and key actions are outlined.
3. After the meeting (communication)
The period after the meeting is equally critical. Effective follow-up and communication are integral to the impact of the meeting. To ensure follow-through, you need to:
- Assess whether the meeting objectives have been achieved, and key decisions have been recorded with their respective implementers.
- Summarise the agreed actions, identifying action owners and due dates.
- Share the action log with participants to maintain transparency and accountability.
- Plan follow-up actions between meetings.
Meetings as a catalyst for operational excellence
Operational excellence is a continuous journey of improvement, and effective meetings are essential to support this journey. When well-planned and executed, meetings can help teams identify and address performance gaps, track progress and celebrate successes, share best practice and learn from each other.
To drive operational excellence, companies should have a culture of continuous improvement. Everyone in the organisation should embrace the culture of improvement. Find out more about our full range of Operational Excellence products and how Renoir uses our behavioural and cultural change methodologies to enable the organisation and its people to continue to add value long after the project is complete.
We need to accelerate operational excellence.