As a rule, CEOs spend about two-thirds of their time in meetings lasting longer than an hour.
According to Harvard research, time is the most valuable resource for CEOs, yet they (or you) spend 72 percent of the total available time in meetings on a typical day.
How can you reduce meeting times – a lot?
A Harvard study found that before COVID, a company’s vice president would attend meetings 44 hours a week. COVID has changed that fact to a great extent – and the reasons are not precise. In the Harvard study, the IT manager spent 35 hours with the CEO and sent emails to 85 percent of the company. Most of the leaders in the survey had the same problem. In other words, how can you bring joy to your scheduled meetings?
People in C-suite meet even more often in the new normal to keep the human connection alive. Most employees don’t like how much time they have to account for before, during and after the meeting.
The “switching time” is the time it takes to get back to work in a concentrated manner after a break. For example, it takes at least 15 minutes after a pause to go back to work. It takes at least 30 minutes to focus on a single problem to get moving or make a decision, which is called “time fragmentation.”
When you think about distractions, answering the phone or reading an email – there are many distractions in a day’s work. If employees spend their time switching between tasks, they may only work one hour every two hours.
How a leader spends his time shows how he leads, prioritises and communicates. Assessing the quality of meetings, deciding who should go, and making sure everyone is focused on the task at hand leads to success.
Improving the productivity of the meeting
Manufacturers often have short daily meetings of no more than 15 minutes a day at the same time so that employees do not have to move to a separate room for these meetings. They are early in the morning when they arrive. They talk about what happened yesterday, the problems and what will happen today.
Short but short meetings help keep the focus on necessary tasks, which helps to move things forward. If there are issues, just talk about them in a separate meeting with the people involved – and most offices have benefited from using intraoffice communications like Slack or Outlook.
Prepare the meeting schedule in advance. If it is a regular meeting, always follow the same order of business. How is the project progressing? Is there a problem and do I need help? Everyone should prepare for it. But quickly grasp these matters from an agenda and do not deviate.
Rank who should go to the meeting first
An HBR study found that the more time people spend in extended group environments, the less likely they are to be involved. If people can spend less time in meetings and more time preparing, they will be more productive and enthusiastic about what to do with the information.
Keep the number of people low. Delete everything else and follow Jeff Bezos’ 2 pizza rule. Six to eight people is the right size for a meeting. The more people there are at a meeting, the less productive it is.
A meeting with fewer people doesn’t waste the employees’ time who shouldn’t be there. Invite only people who can help with the project being discussed – and each of them should be encouraged to give honest feedback.
A quick meeting and honest feedback is the secret of Pixar’s Brain Trust meetings. These meetings keep the company focused on the job and help the company be better and more innovative.
A French company with 500 employees called FAVI makes its meetings public. Anyone who wants to see them can. You can replace it with a video-on-demand or an online tool like Kahoo if you want to try this process. Leaders can use their public meetings and everyone in the company can watch the meeting videos and collect data or ask questions.
You need to increase the self-confidence, self-discipline and psychological safety of employees. Make it easier for employees to choose which meeting they want to attend and how they want to be active when they decide to join a class.
Let your employees ask themselves the same questions as you do. How did I do this week? Is this mind meld necessary? What is the goal? Is this your job? Attend the meeting, or can you view the minutes and see if you can participate? If you work from home, you may want to spend more time on one-on-one meetings than the large meetings. These meetings are more important because they give employees a sense of belonging and connection.
Improve your focus
People tend to go offline in essential or long meetings and focus on emails or messages instead of being in the meeting. That’s the worst way to waste time. You can’t pay attention to emails or meetings all the time. In these situations, employees suddenly come to their senses and want someone to repeat what they just said because they were messing around doing something else. This phenomenon works just like the drunk or texting driver.
Focus on keeping your meeting short and sweet so you can devote your time and energy to what matters, then hurry and get back to work. Consider using web-based solutions such as ASANA or Mural.co to make the meeting more engaging, disseminate the results, solicit comments or assign commitments after the scheduled time. Set a fixed time of day for meetings and schedule them all at once to make sure you don’t waste time.
It is a 30 minute challenge.
Diaries and minutes are essential. However, today people don’t use them much. Do you remember the last boring meeting you went to? You may have noticed that leaders didn’t have an agenda or added some topics to the agenda at the last minute.
There are signs that a meeting was practically worthless – and absolutely boring. Everyone talked too much, and some people couldn’t even talk. If a challenging topic took longer than expected, it’s probably because the speakers weren’t ready or prepared and the vital information they needed wasn’t within reach.
Again – the truth is that meetings should not last longer than 30 minutes. Prepare your company and employees now to make every 30 minutes mandatory in your company by 2023.
Why are 1-hour meetings the norm? Since Zoom meetings are free for up to 40 minutes, it makes sense that they are. Drive your team to do better and come up with new ideas in less time and watch your productivity skyrocket.
The same goals should exist within your C-suite – make it a goal to set a new standard for a conference: 30 minutes maximum. This helps your teams pick topics more carefully, choose participants more carefully, and better prepare for the next meeting. You can get at least half of your time back.
Keep in mind that your most important asset is time, and determine that in 2023 – you will stop giving rubbish away.
Featured Image Credits: Photo by Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!
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