In Brevity, Business, Leadership

It’s no secret that people hate meetings.

Sometimes, when I’m teaching a workshop I’ll ask the participants to describe what it feels like to get a meeting cancelation. The responses are priceless: 

Now I can get actual work done.

Christmas came early!

Ahhhh freeeeedoooom!

And you should see the way they giggle and smile as they answer. Apparently, just imaging a meeting cancelation is enough to get the endorphins flowing.

It’s no wonder we feel this way when studies show that over half of us think meetings are the most unproductive part of our workday. They’re the reason we work late. The reason our projects fall behind. The reason we almost hit our goals.

There’s near universal acknowledgement that meetings are a big pain. This alone is reason enough to rethink meeting culture. But there’s another reason that is even more compelling – even if people don’t gripe about it as much at the water cooler: Meetings are expensive. REALLY expensive. For managers, we’re talking game-changing expensive.

Let’s do some quick math…

Say you manage five people whose average salary is $70,000/year. That comes out to about $35/hour if we assume a 2,000-hour work year.

If they’re anything like the teams I’ve surveyed, they’ll spend around 15 hours a week in meetings (that’s a pretty conservative estimate). Now, studies show that at least half of those hours are considered unnecessary by meeting participants. So that means that each employee is racking up around 375 hours of wasted meeting time each year. Multiply that across the team and factor in the hourly rate and it comes to a whopping $65,625.

That doesn’t even account for overhead or benefits. And it doesn’t account for YOUR TIME either. And as a manger you likely cost more and spend more of your time in meetings.

If you could recover some of that wasted time, it could easily be the equivalent of another full-time person on your team. Imagine how that could change the impact your team has on the organization. It’s significant.

So, next time you open up a meeting invite ask yourself a few questions:

• Do I really need a meeting (or could this be an email)?

• Do I really need to invite all these people? (If there are two or more people in the meeting who don’t talk, you’ve invited too many people.)

• Do I really need this much time for the meeting?

Have your team start asking these questions and you should see a difference quickly. To stay honest, check out the Harvard Business Review’s “meeting cost calculator” app here.

Meetings are necessary to get work done. But how can we be sure we’re getting value commensurate with their high cost? On July 27th, 2018 @ 12:00pm CST I will be sharing my thoughts via Webinar about getting maximum value out of meetings, and the single root cause of bad meeting culture. I hope you can join me (it’s free)!

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