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Andrie is a Trainer, and Consultant in Marketing, PR, Communications and Branding with over 10 years experience. In 2013 she was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through an EU initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she represented Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, she was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe"
I was training a team of people on Time Management the other day and I mentioned that a large percentage of our work days (during a year) are consumed by meetings which are out of our control. People in the room thought that especially in small to medium companies this is very typical. We moved on to discuss how meetings can and cannot be productive. Out of the discussion, we all agreed that meetings should have a purpose to accomplish.
Meetings should improve productivity, teamwork, communication, attitude, motivation and the overall wellbeing feeling, at work. In my experience, leaders and managers allocate almost half of their daily work hours in preparing and holding meetings, which does not leave much time for actually getting things done.
So, why are the majority of meetings unproductive?
1. Lack of Agenda
Prior to the initiation of any meeting, make sure that everyone is on the same page. Clarify the meeting’s agenda and the purpose it is trying to serve. Tell your team what the main objective of getting together is, and determine how the meeting will progress. In case you notice that your meetings are taking much longer than what was initially estimated, they probably lack a clear purpose.
2. Poor Moderation Skills
If you are aware that a specific member of your team knows more about a topic of discussion than you do, let them lead that part of the meeting to keep things moving quickly. It saves time, while keeping your team alert and ready to speak.
3. Emotional Reasons
Often employees feel frustrated when they cannot express themselves freely. Frustration arises when they have things to say but need to hold back because they are afraid of stepping on each other's toes. Prevent this frustration by establishing a code of conduct. Set a time limit on the meeting and allow specific portions of time for each employee to speak. Don't let politeness interfere with getting things done.
4. Inviting the wrong people
When people lose attention by sneaking emails on their smartphones rather than actively taking part in the meeting, it is a strong signal that the content of the meeting is not correct. If you have come to realise that you are only fully engaging one or two employees at a time while everyone else checks their phone or daydreams, then you're wasting time.
5. No Follow-up
Follow-up is key to successful meetings, especially if you have assigned tasks and deliverables. Keep track of the end result, and don't rely on just your own thoughts. Get a sense of whether or not your team thinks the purpose you set out to achieve at the beginning was actually fulfilled. Be open to suggestions on how future meetings could be improved.
Repetitive meetings can make people feel tired and often overwhelmed. By shifting between various meeting locations, you prevent boredom and increase participation and productivity. Often a simple change of scenery can bring back the good energy of the team, which leads to good ideas. Ask your team if they enjoyed the change of scenery. If they enjoyed it but didn't find it constructive, try something else the next time.
About the author:
Andrie Penta is a Soft Skills Trainer and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience. In 2013, Andrie was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through a European Commission initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she was chosen to represent Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, Andrie was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe". Andrie is a Certified Trainer by the Cyprus Human Resource Development Authority.