3 signs you may be having too many work meetings

By Robert Half on 29 February 2020

Communications is one of the pillars that all successful companies lean on. It is integral to most, if not all, of the comings and goings within a company. It is through effective communication that pivotal decisions are considered or planned out before they are executed. However, like all things in life, too much of anything can be detrimental, and it is no different for meetings.

This blog aims to discuss the negative effects of having too many meetings along with the indications that you may need to cut back. We'll also be giving you some tips on how to get the number of meetings that you're holding under control to prevent these problems from coming up in the first place.

Negative effects of having too many meetings

Loss of time and resources

Time is money. While some meetings are necessary, some of them aren't and can be a waste of time and resources. Jeff Haden from Inc details that if you compute the cost of every person participating in the meeting from both a time and resources standpoint, your company will undoubtedly hold fewer meetings. And this is without factoring opportunity cost, as the time that your employees are spending in a meeting is time that they could have spent working on something else. Keep this in mind before scheduling that next work meeting.

Loss of productivity

As stated above, too many meetings can mean your employees are spending time there instead of working on other things. This is why another obvious downside to having too many meetings is the loss of productivity. In fact, Tesla CEO Elon Musk only reserves meetings for matters that he deems extremely urgent, since he had observed a dip in productivity when meetings are held frequently. Indeed, meetings can break the momentum and throw off productivity, so only hold them if completely necessary.

Signs you're having too many meetings

No agenda

Meetings, when done right, are an opportunity to share ideas and new developments. They help you arrive at actionable points that can improve your business operations as a whole. However, you can start running into problems when meetings start to feel without purpose or lack organisation. This is why holding meetings without a concrete agenda is a tell-tale sign that you may be having too many of them.

Before holding a meeting, be sure to set expectations and the key takeaways that people should walk away with after the meeting concludes. If you can't do either of these things, then maybe an email will do. This alternative will help avoid wasting people's time and company resources.

Lectures not meetings

Meetings are supposed to be collaborative. If you find yourself lecturing instead of facilitating dialogue, then maybe there wasn't a need to call for a meeting in the first place.

Furthermore, one-sided meetings can also indicate an even bigger problem. It could mean that your employees and team members are disengaged, and have all turned into yes men and women. Both of these signs indicate an issue and should be addressed accordingly. Keep this in mind during your next meeting, so you can better observe these signs and get to the bottom of the issue once and for all.

No actionable items

Lastly, ideas are merely ideas if none of them are implemented. One of the main purposes of a meeting should be to arrive at actionable points that will lead to the holistic development of your team, and by extension, the company as a whole.

This is why it's important to make sure that meetings all end with actionable items that have specific deadlines. Meetings that lack this component could probably have been streamlined and fit into an email or a quick huddle. Not having actionable items for your meetings is a clear sign that they're probably unnecessary.

How to avoid having too many meetings

Set "No Meeting" days

One straightforward way to lessen the number of meetings is by assigning "No Meeting" days. Verizon Connect details how Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz implemented “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Once a week, there is a company-wide ban on meetings. This technique helps boost productivity, as employees and managers have one day in their schedule where they can work uninterrupted. This also gives both employees and managers time to settle any issues before calling for a meeting, which will undoubtedly reduce the number of unnecessary meetings.

Require agendas for meetings

While technology makes it easy to set meetings via Slack or Google Calendar, it doesn't mean that you should schedule meetings for every small issue or concern. One way to filter through unnecessary meetings is by requiring an agenda before a meeting is set. By doing this, you also ensure that a meeting is organised, as the purpose and expected outcome are all set before it even begins. This means that there will be less unnecessary meetings, while also making the meetings that do push through more focused and productive.

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