staff in a meeting

Suppose you’re a small agency owner, and you hold a meeting with five caregiver supervisors for one hour every week. If you hold this meeting faithfully every week for a year, you’ll have spent 52 hours with this meeting alone and used 260 employee hours (not including prep time). Every meeting you hold can cost your company time and money, but depending on the quality of the meeting, that cost can be a waste or an investment. Unfortunately, most employees aren’t as engaged as you’d like them to be in their regular meetings. According to a study by Atlassian, 91% of employees admitted to daydreaming during meetings; 73% did other work during their meetings; and 47% called meetings the number one time waster at the office. This is a common problem, but there are simple ways to improve your meetings and reengage your employees:

1. Spend time on an agenda.

It happens far too often. You sit down in a meeting about your marketing strategy, and by the time the scheduled hour is up you’ve only spent ten minutes actually discussing marketing. This tendency for getting sidetracked not only wastes a lot of time and slows down decisions, but it can also weaken your employees’ perception of your leadership skills. Take control by outlining a clear agenda and establishing your objectives for the meeting. Send this agenda to the attendees so they can come prepared to discuss the points you’ve outlined. Once you start the meeting, you’re guaranteed to have moments in which you get distracted; when this happens, regain control and steer the conversation back. As the team talks, note any unrelated ideas that you may want to discuss with them at another time.

2. Be selective about the attendees.

As you evaluate the list of invitees for your meeting, before hitting send, look at each name and decide if that person really needs to be there. If the person isn’t essential, send a brief summary email instead. For every person who comes to a meeting that doesn’t need to be there, your company and that person are losing time and productivity. Only invite the essential people.

3. Schedule meetings at half the time you think you’ll need.

Meetings generally take the time we allot to them, which means they rarely end early. If you schedule a meeting for an hour, even if you could have finished in thirty minutes, you’ll often take the full hour. You and your team are probably more effective decision makers than you think. Try cutting your meeting time in half (1 hrà30 min., 30 min.à15 min., etc.), and watch what happens. You may be surprised by how quickly you can get things done.

4. Don’t start late. Don’t end late.

No one is inherently tardy. Tardiness is a habit. If people become accustomed to showing up late, everyone will follow suit, and you’ll become accustomed to starting late. Create a pattern of starting on time and ending on time. Your employees will respect you for it, and they’ll follow your lead.

5. Ask yourself if you really need a meeting.

Don’t just hold a meeting because it’s Tuesday or because you haven’t had one in a while. Before planning a meeting consider if it’s necessary and if shorter or more personal office visits could be just as effective. Never feel obligated to hold a meeting. Cancelling an unnecessary meeting is an investment in your team and their time.

Meetings can be an asset or an obstacle to progress depending on how you treat them. By applying these tips, you can make sure that every hour you invest in a meeting is an hour well spent.

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