11 Strategies to Transform Your Meetings for Maximum Efficiency in the New Year

11 Strategies to Transform Your Meetings for Maximum Efficiency in the New Year

For most of us and most teams, meetings often become the least productive part of the day. Despite that fact, many people find themselves stuck in various types of meetings. The meeting culture breeds more meetings, creating a vicious cycle that leaves people unproductive and demotivated.

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01-Avoid “Check-in Meetings”

Well, you’ve probably experienced the “let’s all sit down and have everyone talk about their progress!” type of meeting, and it’s a complete waste of time and outdated. In the past, managers used this method to ensure that every employee was working. In reality, most status updates only concern one or two people, and others are just waiting for their turn to speak. This kind of update can easily be replaced by online chat tools, smaller discussions, and emails.

02-Prioritize One-on-One Reports

Managers often get busy with meetings and frequently cancel or postpone one-on-one reporting time. However, one-on-one reports are the most critical part of your daily work. They’re not about you; they’re about your employees. As a manager, your job is to make decisions, clear obstacles, and ensure your employees feel valued. Ensuring one-on-one reporting time will make your employees feel they’re being seen and respected.

03-Appoint a Meeting Owner

There should be someone responsible for communicating the purpose and agenda of the meeting, indicating who the decision-maker is, and arranging follow-up actions and sending meeting minutes. A meaningful meeting should never leave people asking, “Who organized this?” Furthermore, it’s essential to inform everyone in advance about the meeting’s purpose and agenda: Who’s making decisions? Who’s attending? After all, nobody wants to walk into a meeting where the purpose, agenda, and responsible person are unclear. Encourage employees to vote with their feet – they should have the right to refuse to attend meetings that lack clarity in terms of purpose, agenda, and organizer.

04-Being Busy Doesn’t Mean Being Important

Many managers think that being busy makes them look important, so they fill their calendars with meetings. However, you are a manager, not a professional meeting-goer, right? This approach only makes it difficult for your team to reach you. If you don’t have to attend a particular meeting, just decline it. If you haven’t been invited to a meeting, don’t take it personally; if you believe you can contribute to a meeting, communicate with the organizer in advance.

05-Make Time for Quick Decisions

If a rapid decision is needed, gather decision-makers promptly. Build a culture of fast response. One advantage of not being bogged down by cumbersome meetings is having plenty of time to handle such urgent situations.

06-Keep Meetings Small

Meetings with fewer than 5 people are ideal. Research shows that when the number of participants in a meeting exceeds 7, meeting effectiveness begins to decline. Not everyone on the team needs to attend the meeting; select a few representatives. If you don’t know how to keep meetings small, rethink your meeting goals. Of course, some large meetings are essential. In such cases, identify a spokesperson and allocate enough time for questions and answers.

07-Consider the Opportunity Cost of Each Meeting

How much money does this meeting cost the company? For example, a 2-hour meeting with 16 participants consumes the equivalent of 32 hours, which is close to one person’s week of work. Is this meeting more important than the work one employee can do in a week? You need to find appropriate ways to remind everyone of the potential cost of a meeting.

08-Respect Others’ Time

Think about how much time your meeting is taking from your team. Borrowing an hour from someone else is similar to borrowing a ladder from a neighbor. Politely ask and only borrow when absolutely necessary, and when returning it, say “thank you.” Don’t try to organize a meeting that exceeds 60 minutes; set 30 minutes as a standard, and you’ll find yourself becoming more efficient. Conversely, if you’re a participant, avoid touching your phone and computer as a sign of respect.

09-You Can Disagree, but You Will Execute

The presence of a manager is to resolve disagreements. If people cannot reach a consensus on something, then quickly find the person who can make the final decision. In a healthy organization, people can disagree but will execute the final decision.

10-When It’s Over, It’s Over

Do you remember how many times people in a meeting say, “Well, we have 20 minutes left, so let’s talk about something else”? This is absurd. If you arrive home 15 minutes early, do you sit in your car and waste those 15 minutes? If you’ve achieved the meeting’s objectives ahead of schedule, congratulations! End the meeting promptly and let others get back to their work.

11-Start Everything Fresh

Sometimes, the best approach is to get rid of the meeting burden and start everything fresh. A creative company I was involved with implemented this approach. Starting on January 1st, they canceled all their recurring weekly meetings. Meetings would only be reinstated if they were absolutely necessary, had a clear facilitator, and involved relevant participants. The results were astonishing. Previously, their weekly “status update” meetings would last 3-4 hours. Now, they were completely gone, replaced by smaller, faster meetings. The company saved thousands of hours of employee time, and now that time could finally be used where it should be—on actual work!

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