You could change your meetings — or you could scrap them entirely. Some businesses are looking to improve meetings to save time, while others are saying buh-bye to meetings in general. And our Employee Engagement Report found that nearly 70% of workers don’t feel like they’re able to handle their workload efficiently. It’s no mystery why: it’s estimated that 35% of a middle manager’s time is wasted in meetings and 67% of executives consider their meetings to be failures, according to The Muse.
But it’s not like people want to waste their time. The intention behind meetings, say to discuss a project or update the staff, is often good but the execution isn’t. Here’s how to accomplish those goals by replacing (at least some of) your meetings with more effective communication.
1. Use team collaboration tools
Many companies are using technology to replace meetings. One example is Campfire, a tool that allows for asynchronous collaboration, meaning that employees can respond to messages when it suits them. This doesn’t require you to interrupt your work flow but still allows for large group communication.
Another option is Slack, which allows you to separate communications into different channels. With these collaboration tools, you can index and reference past conversations — no need to have an assistant taking notes.
2. Email, phone, or face-to-face conversation
For issues that deal with another individual or a small group, there’s no need to call a meeting of the entire team. Instead, just have a conversation with them or fire off an email.
But some companies are taking a radical approach to productivity by eliminating email as well. One startup, MT Online, decided that because email was such a big time waster, they’d ditch it in favor of Trello, a control panel for managing projects.
3. Rework how you receive feedback
Another common reason for meetings is to ask for feedback from the team. However, this may not be particularly effective, as big personalities tend to dominate meetings. Also, complaints about one topic may take over the conversation, even if employees have other legitimate gripes.
Instead, consider using a survey tool that collects employee feedback regularly. Make sure the survey is short and easy to complete and provides clear direction on relevant topics. Another option is to have more informal one-on-one conversations with employees to gauge how things are going.
4. Try collaborative workshops
Collaborative workshops are a way for employees to gather for a specific reason, such as creating a big-picture plan or making a decision about the company’s future. These often involve the help of an outside facilitator who can provide clear direction.
These typically take more time and effort than the average meeting and, therefore, should be used sparingly. But the point is to come out of a collaborative workshop having taken a big step forward.
5. Have fewer better meetings
If you have to have a meeting, make it short, objective-focused, and only involving those people who absolutely have to be there. Try to eliminate recurring meetings that stay on the calendar only because they’re supposed to occur, rather than because there’s something to accomplish.
If you want to get serious about productivity, you need to closely examine how your employees spend their days. Scrapping pointless meetings will demonstrate that you’re serious about using time wisely and communicating only what’s necessary to get the job done.