I recently attended a seminar which raised several interesting points around business meetings. The attendees mainly consisted of corporate learning managers who were asked to complete a poll. The audience was asked: “what kind of requests are you mostly getting from employees and leaders?” Taking the top spot, with a whopping 61% of the votes, was ‘save us from too many meetings.” After almost 18-months of remote working, online meetings are taking their toll.
But even before Covid, employees were overwhelmed with meetings. Research conducted over the last 50 years shows that, on average, todays executives spends around 23 hours a week in meetings. Employees may not spend that amount of time, but most people will say that amount of meetings is disruptive time-consuming a tiring.
Are you Wasting Time in Meetings?
Whilst meetings are essential for planning, collaborating and innovation, too many meetings put a strain on people’s time and mental health. During the lockdown, people complained of zoom fatigue. The underlying issue is that most meetings are unnecessary. Regular team meetings to go over the points of the previous week, for example, can often feel pointless. Moreover, they could be communicated in a less time-consuming way.
Since teams have been deployed remotely, researchers found that people are having 13% more meetings. More emails are being sent also and the interruptions are causing workdays to become 8.2% longer. Consequently, managers are looking to find solutions to reduce the number of meetings and prevent zoom fatigue. An effective way of doing this is to train your staff about meeting relevancy using animated and interactive e-learning content.
Do you really need a meeting?
There’s no doubt that meetings are time-consuming and pressurising. The knock-on effect of too many meetings, therefore, also make having too many meetings expensive. If your employees are caught up in daily meetings, they lose time in which they could have been productive. But it’s not only the time they lose in meetings that impacts their performance. The cognitive overload meetings can have, especially in remote working environments, slows down productivity for the rest of the day.
This begs the question, ‘do you really need a meeting?’
It’s easy for people to say after the event that a meeting was unnecessary. But hindsight is a treasure that isn’t worth a great deal. If you could have foresight, on the other hand, that would really make a difference. If you notice the amount of time your employees spend in meetings has become a problem, the smart move is to introduce a system that enables people to determine whether or not a meeting is absolutely necessary.
The key to limiting the number of meetings to a reasonable amount is knowing when to say no. Several years ago we created an e-learning training video which helped managers and staff recognise whether a meeting was absolutely necessary or not. E-learning videos are highly effective because they feature animated videos and gamification users can interact with. The effectiveness of using eLearning content supports employees overwhelmed by meeting requests because they are engaging, memorable and prompt people to determine whether a meeting is absolutely necessary before organising it. Let’s take a look at some examples.
How to Determine if a Meeting is Necessary
People need to determine whether a meeting is absolutely necessary, and if so, what type of meeting is suitable. However, that’s not always easy to determine – especially when a project manager or executive has a target they need help with. Even experienced campaigners sometimes need a little guidance. The best way to do that is to create a checklist that includes pertinent questions. The answers are then awarded a score via a points system that is attached to an outcome.
Some example questions would include:
- What do you need from the meeting; to generate ideas, data, deliverables, discussion, feedback etc?
- Is the matter time-sensitive?
- What are your deliverables?
- How many people are involved?
You could go one better and create a gamified e-learning program that employees can use to make the decision for them. A simple check box with a scale will give them an overall score. Scores will be allocated a course of action such as ‘no meeting required’, ‘brainstorm’ ‘quick 10-minute chat’ etc. The results for recommended meeting types might look something like this:
- 1-10 No meeting required
- 11-15 Status update meetings (check-ins, quick 10-minutes)
- 16-20 One-to-one / Relationship building (feedback, appraisals, resolving issues, virtual coffees, onboarding, client intros, etc.)
- 21-25 Innovation/decision-making (brainstorming, collaborating, idea sharing, problem-solving, sprints, etc.)
Employees will benefit from the freedom they have to focus on their work. People that need to call meetings will benefit from an interactive system that informs them of whether a meeting is necessary and if so, what type of meeting is most appropriate.