PDA's good friend Dave Penter shares an open reflection on meetings and engagement - and offers some suggestions for improving both, thank you Dave.
Finally worn me down
'Maybe it was because it was late on a Friday and I was already thinking about dinner with friends and enjoying a relaxing weekend. Maybe I was reflecting on the recent employee survey and thinking about just how engaged I felt at that point in time. Or maybe it was just a realisation that I had been here many times before and the cumulative effect had finally worn me down. Whatever the reason, and I think in truth it was probably a combination of all three, I knew that the meeting I was sitting in wasn't working for me and certainly wasn't delivering value for my employer.
Time is such a precious commodity
I also knew that I wasn’t alone. A study conducted by Officebroker.com in March 2013 confirmed what many of us always suspected was true, that we are wasting our lives in pointless meetings. A headline in Management Today screamed out “UK workers waste a year of their lives in useless meetings.” Time is such a precious commodity. We don’t have sufficient time to get our work done within normal office hours so the divide between work and home life has become increasingly blurred for many. We can therefore ill afford to be wasting time in meetings which frankly have no meaning for us – often we don’t know why we’re there and, even if we do, they don’t seem to take us forward.
What leads to an effective meeting
Surely it doesn't have to be that way. If you take a straw poll of people in the office environment, I am sure they can list many of the things that lead to effective meetings:
- ensure the meeting is really necessary – what are we here to do?
- come prepared
- clear agenda communicated in advance
- keep to time
- make sure the right people are there and are able to fully contribute to the debate and facilitate decision making
- keep focused
- agree actions
There must be several more elements to great meetings and companies. Let’s face it, it’s not rocket science. The reality though is that a look into any glass paneled meeting room will often reveal more people than appear necessary and several attendees who, if they are not quite asleep, certainly look as if they have used all their energy in digesting their lunch.
What does it cost?
So what will it take to get meetings back on track? Perhaps a greater appreciation of the cost of meetings. It’s a fairly crude tool but a quick look at www.effectivemeetings.com will enable you to calculate the cost of your meetings. An understanding of the cost may get managers to really think about whether they have obtained value from their meetings.
Managers are used to managing budgets so why not give them a meetings budget. Anyone that they invite to the meeting becomes a cost so managers will be incentivised to keep meetings focused and to only have the right resources there. If you’re paying, you don't want anyone who is not contributing. If people really know why they are there and feel fully able to contribute, it will also lead to improved levels of engagement.
Once you have the right people in the room why not use Fierce Conversations team meeting tool – the BEACHBALL – this will ensure you clarify what you are there to ‘solve’ and it will give everyone in the room the opportunity to contribute their ideas and thoughts … I look forward to my invite!'