By Younas Chaudhary
I am opposed to having face-to-face meetings at work, especially meetings with many coworkers. This is because most meetings that are scheduled for 30-minutes will drag on for an hour or more without being productive. When I look back at the countless hours wasted in business meetings and the loss of productivity, it’s clear that meetings have cost me tens of thousands of dollars.
I used to have consistent face to face meetings with coworkers, but I realized over the years that they were not productive. So, I shifted to short, one-on-one meetings with key staff that last between 5 and 20 minutes.
My main goal is to keep these meetings short or even avoid them. I develop a brief agenda, communicate it regularly, and mainly ask 3 simple questions:
- Tasks List: What are you working on?
- Cost Control: How does this work relate to productivity, expenses, and profitability?
- Due Date: What are the deadlines?
This simple, though effective, tool makes us all accountable at work. We know our responsibilities, and how to monitor costs, and focus on making money in clear terms. I found that a “to do list” directly linked to productivity and cost saving effectiveness yields better results than holding long daily or weekly meetings.
Team members know their work expectations every week, with clear written agenda and follow ups to ensure greater collaboration and overall prudent partnerships. At the end of the day, I want my coworkers to know and realize that a business needs to make money.
Watching and monitoring all your costs is one of the essential tools to run a home and a business.
I try to focus on core areas. For example, in oil and gas wells operations, I concentrate on all high yielding wells and poorly performing wells that are losing money. Instead of having long meetings on such topics, I emphasize tasks to do with my teams so its transparent, accountable and timely. With new electronic technology tools, like emails, Slack, and Asana, teamwork has become more efficient than holding long face to face team meetings.
In situations where I really need to explain my thought process to someone or other team members, I promptly call and hold a face-to-face meeting just to make my thoughts and instructions clear. But I try not to linger on to talk and discuss non-productive subjects once I have made my point on individual tasks or larger issues.
With COVID-19, we all have realized the value of online meeting tools like Zoom and Teams. They are efficient but are being overused at most businesses becoming bigger timewasters than face to face meetings! They should be used occasionally but not daily, so employees can be more productive working on “to do” lists.
Throughout my business career, I’ve realized that skipping unnecessary meetings has given me and my coworkers more quality time to finish important tasks related to my businesses. Nevertheless, often we feel that we will need to be physically present at a meeting instead of asking the more important question: “Do I really need to be there?”
Meetings without a purpose and a clear agenda result in groupthink and the lack of new ideas.
“Many executives feel overwhelmed by meetings, and on average, they spend nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. What’s more, the meetings are often poorly timed, badly run, or both,” says an article by Constance Noonan Hadley and Eunice Eun in the Harvard Business Review.
The authors found that every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into an individual’s solo work that’s essential for creativity and efficiency. Moreover, meetings interrupt thinking and “dysfunctional meeting behaviors are associated with lower levels of market share, innovation, and employment stability.”
So, folks, before you plan your next team meeting, ask if it will have a clear purpose linked to your company’s bottom line. If not, skip it and use that time to do something better! Blessings.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.