Productivity Tip #5: Just Say No: End Endless Meetings

We all have worked in environments where it seems each day is held hostage by an endless cycle of meetings.

According to a report from Bain & Co., up to 15% of a company’s time is spent collectively in meetings each year. And the estimated cost of these unnecessary and relatively useless get-togethers is staggering: around $37 billion cumulatively in salary costs for U.S. businesses each year, according to yet another study.

While the idea of bringing team members together to discuss issues or tasks is a good one, many times these discussions get in the way of actually getting things done. One meeting scheduled right after another is a drain on productivity and a drag on efficiency.

Yet team members and managers continue to book them and then complain about their inefficiency.

So, what’s the answer? While it may not be practical to axe meetings altogether, encourage employees and managers to think twice before hitting send on those meetings invites. Can the task or issue be addressed just as effectively via email, phone or via a web-based meeting?

Another view is to have a Kanban software system that keeps all participants projects updated and only those risks and issues should be discussed in meetings. This way, the meeting is not a routine round table of updates, but a stream lined meeting to tackle real burning issues and risks to projects. Also, only those who are directly impacted should attend the meeting reducing the need for too many people to be at one meeting.

Inc. also offers another creative solution. For those gatherings that are absolutely necessary, force everyone to stand for the duration of the discussion. These “standing” meetings can help boost engagement of all the team members in attendance and increase productivity. And forcing people to stand also encourages the host to keep things as brief as possible.