What’s your initial reaction whenever you get a meeting invite? Do you jump for joy at the chance to be with everyone else to discuss important matters? Or do you roll your eyes thinking they should send the agenda over email because you have better things to do?
There are several reasons why people dread meetings, top of which is that sessions take participants away from doing actual work. Meetings are unproductive and waste time since they drag on for too long without producing actionable outcomes. There is so much time spent waiting for late participants, talking rather than listening, and going off-topic that they cannot reach a unanimous decision at the end.
To address this, companies limited the number of times they meet, choosing specific days only, while some removed it entirely. But more than merely removing or limiting meetings, some companies took it a step further by studying how arrangements affect employees psychologically to address these issues head-on.
Let us look at the different psychological issues and how to address them.
For one, lack of physical activity lowers concentration and mood levels. Why not mix physical activity and meetings? Standing meetings offer a variety of benefits, such as endorphins and energy levels. Moreover, standing meetings keep participants focused, improve posture and foster collaboration.
Another issue to address is the lack of plan and information. Meetings go around in circles because no clear schedule was set prior. Sending information beforehand will give employees ample time to prepare their questions and suggestions.
A third issue to address is the necessity of the meeting. Meetings are costly, so it’s imperative to review which remains necessary and which do not. Also, check the participants. Is it crucial to invite all of them? Some employees dread meetings because they don’t feel that the intent affects them directly, so they don’t need to attend. I reiterate the importance of scheduling meetings only when necessary and keeping them short and exciting.
A fourth issue that annoys employees is meeting content. Do we need to share all the information or not? Unnecessary information can be overwhelming and cause people to lose interest. Brains also have limits, so ensure that you share essential points only during the presentation. Supporting data can be sent as a follow-up via a word document that they can peruse at their own time.
Do you bring your gadgets when you attend meetings? If yes, then you have the tendency to multitask, which is another issue to address. Instead of giving your full attention, the trend is to check emails or do other work. It diminishes brain capacity leading to less productivity. A way to address this is to ban the use of gadgets.
While the issues mentioned above highlight why meetings can be detrimental, there are still good outcomes as long as they are short and direct to the point.
Meetings allow everyone to converge and collaborate. Gathering everyone in the same room, sharing ideas and working on a common goal improves teamwork.
It is also a perfect avenue to get feedback, share issues and concerns, and work together to solve the problem. Being together makes it easier to keep everyone in the loop.
Lastly, it’s an excellent way to bond with teammates. The few minutes before and after each meeting gives everyone a chance to chat and catch up with colleagues. It provides them with a sense of camaraderie and increases their productivity.
Improving Your Meetings
Moving forward, how do you intend to keep everyone excited and committed to joining meetings?
Set guidelines. Evaluate whether a situation is critical enough to necessitate a meeting. If yes, send an agenda and invite only the people who can best contribute to reaching a solution.
Meetings are best done in the afternoon, an unlikely time to start projects. It’s better to spend mornings doing work that requires focus. Set a time limit to meetings, ideally between 15-45 minutes. Ban the use of smartphones during meetings. If sessions are remote, tell the participants to close unnecessary programs and stop multitasking.
During meetings, keep everything short and engaging. Don’t forget to inject humour as it lightens everyone’s moods. Most importantly, stick to the plan.
An important meeting output is the minutes. Please share it with everyone to keep them updated on what happened and the next steps. Ask participants for feedback to ensure that the next meeting will be better.