Make Meetings More Productive

Posted by Amy Wallace Amy Wallace on .

If your job includes having weekly or daily meetings, you know how inconvenient and draining they can be. Meant to be times to catch up on news, become aware of how the team is working, and discuss important updates, meetings can easily become the worst part of your week.

Catching up with team members and managers is a very important part of making sure your work is going in the right direction and you know how the rest of the team and company is working.

Meetings can be really beneficial if they are well structured and involve the perfect balance of communication in all directions, but they can also cause frustration and tension even while they’re meant to help.

Some meetings end up dragging on unnecessarily, simply because meetings are part of the schedule and other times, it’s difficult to get a word in about the most important topic on the agenda.

If meetings were approached differently, with everyone focused on exactly what they can bring to the table and then get out of the meeting, they would become a much less dreaded event.

Joel Gascoigne wrote an interesting post about how he approaches coaching and feedback with the Buffer team. The emphasis is not only on 1:1 ‘meetings’ but on approaching those encounters themselves differently.

One interesting point Joel makes is that:

The 1:1 is for the team member, not the CEO or team lead
You might notice that in the structure breakdown above, it translates to 60 minutes dictated by the team member, and only 10 minutes led by myself or the team lead. This is very deliberate, and in the early days the balance was the other way around. One of the key realizations for me that it should work this way was a great article Ben Horowitz wrote entitled One on One where he said the following:

Generally, people who think one-on-one meetings are a bad idea have been victims of poorly designed one-on-one meetings. The key to a good one-on-one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting.

When you share the structure in advance and 85% of the time is dedicated to the team member, and it is up to them to set the agenda, it suddenly becomes very empowering.

Of course, this is not a direct equivalence to group meetings but there is still a lot to be learnt from the open-minded attitude with which Buffer approaches its 1:1 meetings.

If you don’t have the chance to work somewhere that, like Buffer, has a different approach to meetings, then has some ideas about how you can make them more feel more productive.

Many people report that meetings are costly, unproductive and dissatisfying. They truly monopolize both employees’ and managers’ time, taking up anywhere between 25 and 80 percent of their workdays. For a full-time worker, this translates to time in meetings from 520 hours to 1,664 hours (or 65 to 208 full working days).

If you’re spending that much time sitting in meetings without feeling productive, you’ll become caught in a negative loop and you won’t be able to get the most out of even the most productive of meetings.

Check out the rest of the article here to see what they suggest to get your meetings back on track.

Do you have any tips for making meetings more productive? Have you tried to cut down on meetings at your own company? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

Photo Credit: Petr Dadák