Whether you are managing multiple projects or a large team, your calendar has a tendency to fill up quickly. It becomes easy (and second nature) to get caught up in the “let’s schedule a meeting” game. Eventually this leads to days full of non-productive meetings with associates, unable to do their regular job, left to make statements such as “I don’t have time to work” or “Why am I even in this meeting?”
Let’s face it, sitting in meetings all day isn’t much fun. Combine this with companies cutting back on catering (wait, no food!) and you have a recipe for boredom and unhappiness. Here are five ways for cutting down on meetings and make the most use of the meetings you do have.
1) No Surprises
You should always be prepared, that’s Meetings 101, but go beyond the agenda and objective in your preparation. Check around and make sure there are no surprises waiting for you. Call or stop by the offices of other attendees. A sure way to add several meetings to your calendar is to be surprised with an issue or item you are not prepared to deal with.
2) Pick Up the Damn Phone!
Email provides incredible tools for workplace communication, but sometimes you need to make a call or (forgive me) get off your ass and go talk to someone. Find the answers you need over the phone or face to face and then communicate to the team via email.
3) Is This Important?
If a directive is dependent on another project or still pending approval it is most likely not worth meeting over now. Businesses plans change (a lot) and today’s plan may change tomorrow. Prioritizing meetings is important, be sure those involved are comfortable with the timing and agree to “put off” certain topics until they are more relevant, or a priority for the business.
4) Follow the Paper Trail
Create a central repository for all agendas, recaps, and project/team reports. Make sure everyone is able to access and direct them to this area should they request a meeting to follow-up on an item. Specifically if that particular item or topic has already been covered, documented, and filed in the repository.
5) STOP Micromanaging and Delegate
This is #5, but probably most important and very simple. (Ready to be blown away?) If you micromanage your team you will need to be in every single meeting, if you don’t micromanage your team, you don’t need to be in every meeting. DON’T Micromanage!
Make the meetings you do have productive and have the team walk away feeling they have answers, direction, and most importantly, have contributed to the effort. Unless your company practice is to have taco buffets and tequila available for each meeting (if your company does, are they accepting resumes?) it is a good idea to cut down on the number of meetings you schedule/attend as well as make the most use out of the meetings you attend.
by David Grant