Your time, and the time of those you lead and depend on, are your most valuable resources as a leader.
Unfortunately, time is also the most wasted resource — with the greatest amount of waste coming in the form of unnecessary and unproductive meetings.
There are an estimated 11 million meetings taking place in the US alone every day. If the numerous studies are correct, a third to half of them are unproductive. The cost of unproductive meetings is indeed staggering, estimated at $37 billion in salary costs by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You might be wondering, “Who is running all of those time-wasting, disorganized, mind-numbing, and useless meetings?”
The interesting thing is that when most people complain about bad meetings, they’re usually talking about the ones run by someone else.
Even if you don't think you’re one of the culprits, consider that your meetings say a lot about your leadership for better or for worse.
So what might your meetings say about your leadership?
1. Are your meetings results-focused?
Sure you have goals and objectives and are likely being held accountable for delivering on them. Yet this doesn’t necessarily mean you bring a results focus to everything you do. Ask yourself these questions about how you approach meetings to determine if you lead meetings with a results focus:
- Do you design and plan your meetings with the same attention that you give to your strategic and project plans?
- Do you show up with a laundry list of things to cover or do you have a specific outcome in mind when you bring a group of people together?
- Do you define a successful meeting as one in which you get through all of your agenda items or one in which you achieve meaningful outcomes for all involved?
Consider meetings can be a vital touch point that contribute to progress and even add velocity to achieving results if you design them with a specific and meaningful outcome in mind.
2. Do you value the time, energy and attention of others?
Ensuring you make good use of other people’s time is a great way to demonstrate that you truly value them and the contribution they make. Also, keep in mind that you are asking for more than time. You are asking for their attention and energy.
To ensure you demonstrate just how much you value the investment being made, ponder these questions next time you call a meeting:
- Are you focused on serving your needs or serving the needs of your team so they can do their best work?
- What will you do to make sure every person attending will not only contribute something valuable, but also receive something of value from their participation?
- What outcome would make the investment of time, attention and energy pay off for you, the participants, and your organization?
Consider the way you design and conduct meetings as an opportunity to demonstrate how much you value people’s time, energy and attention.
3. Do you actively create a meeting environment that fosters engagement?
If you take a moment and reflect on the last few meetings you ran, consider how much engagement actually occurred.
- Did people come just to hear from you or were you seeking to hear from them as well?
- Was your meeting more like a presentation than a conversation?
- Were the usual few doing all the talking or did everyone participate fully in bringing value to the conversation?
- Did people leave the room energized — or were they watching the clock waiting for the meeting to end so they could get on with real work?
Consider that your meetings present an opportunity to facilitate and increase the level of engagement of every member of your team.
Meetings are a significant investment. Are you leading the way by designing every meeting to ensure it’s a worthwhile investment for you, participants and your organization?
Your Turn: Do you have any tips for holding more effective meetings?