5 Reasons Your Staff Meetings Waste Time and How to Make Them Awesome

3 min read
May 12, 2015

iStock_000039904700_SmallWith over 25 million meetings in the United States every single day, you’d think most companies would be getting it right…right? Unfortunately, chances are, you’re probably doing your staff meetings wrong. 

During most staff meetings, 91% of your professionals are daydreaming, and some are even napping. Researchers have even suggested that poorly managed staff meetings maybe linked to anxiety and depression in employees.

Most importantly, with this kind of lackluster attendance, are you getting anything done? Probably not. Instead, unproductive meetings waste more than $37 billion per year. Here are five reasons why your staff meetings waste time…and how to fix them so you can make your meetings awesome.

Reason #1: You don’t actually need a staff meeting in the first place

If you aren’t able to clearly explain why you need a staff meeting, you shouldn’t have one. Too many business owners and managers today confuse “meeting” with “getting something done.” But more often than not, a meeting isn’t even necessary.

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Make It Awesome:

Today, many goals can be accomplished without the complexities of coordinating schedules and forcing employees into the meeting room. Before you schedule a meeting, ask yourself: Is this meeting really necessary? Could I accomplish the same goals with an email or two?

Start scheduling meetings only when they’re absolutely necessary. Your employees will have fewer interruptions in their workflow, and you’ll see an increase in productivity.

Reason #2: You don’t have clear objectives or agendas for your meetings

When you don't set the goals and priorities, attendees don’t really know why they’re invited or the reason for having the meeting in the first place. As a result, people show up late or they’re already checked out when they arrive.

Make It Awesome: 

Before every meeting, establish clear objectives and an agenda — with timeframes for each item — so that attendees walk in knowing what to expect. Send the agenda out a day or two in advance so people know what they’re expected to contribute.

Reason #3: Your staff meetings are boring

Staff meetings often consist of employees reporting in and providing status updates, and that’s a waste of everyone’s time. Additionally, if 39% of your employees are actually napping during meetings, you’re boring them to tears.

Make It Awesome:

Develop an organizational culture where meetings matter. Semiconductor giant Intel has become famous for its effective meetings and making sure that every meeting accomplishes something. If employees aren’t just sitting in a room listening to an executive lecture, but are instead more engaged and involved in a process, they’ll contribute and accomplish more in meetings.

Don’t be afraid to feed your team before a meeting or start it with something fun. Or, you can make the entire meeting more interesting: some companies are instituting “walking meetings” to get employees out of their chairs and outside and immersed in nature. Other companies litter the meeting table with “thinking toys” like Rubix cubes and other puzzles that stimulate creative thinking, or they incentivize employee participation by handing out silly prizes or mini candy bars for meeting contributions.

Reason #4: You’re too structured

If your meetings are too structured, you’ll find that your creative employees won’t be able to connect and participate, leaving a dearth of valuable players out of the mix.

Make it Awesome:

Make sure to spend a lot of time listening in your meetings. Employees will be more engaged in meetings where they get to participate and feel heard. Be sure and leave time for creative to contribute in their own way.

Reason #5: Your meetings are way too long

The average employee spends four hours in meetings every week. Either you’re having too many meetings (probably true) or your meetings are way too long (also probably true). And when those meetings drag on, employees check out and become unproductive.

Make It Awesome:

"Scrum" meetings, used in agile software development, are daily meetings that are typically limited to 15 minutes, forcing efficient communication and decision making. You, too, can accomplish more in less time!

Sticking to your agenda will help keep your meeting on task, but consider assigning a timekeeper to keep you on track as well. And always do your absolute best to end meetings when you say you will. Ending meetings on time will earn your employees’ respect and appreciation. 

Staff meetings may be a necessity of business, but they need not be soul-sucking wasters of both time and money. With a few simple shifts in how you run your meetings, you’ll improve efficiency, productivity, and even employee happiness.



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