Monday, 16 september 2019 | Redacción CEU
They help us to consolidate strategies, to make right decisions, to get projects off the ground or to carry out their right follow-up. Work meetings enable us to grow and move forward, but sometimes they can also delay and limit us. Together with the distractions caused by the use of social platforms, the daily checking of unnecessary emails and the repetition of tedious processes that could be solved in half the time, these meetings may be one of the activities that makes us waste more time at work; especially when they have not been well organized. How to take control over this situation? What mistakes should we avoid when setting up work meetings? What do we need to take into account for these meetings to be more productive?
Robert Half International’s study, which is included in El Arte de la Comunicación, is one of the most quoted analysis when it comes to this topic. According to it, 28% of work meetings are unnecessary, unproductive and non-properly prepared. These are factors that contribute to hindering daily work and reducing labor productivity. Taking into account that we spend a large part of our working life gathered or collaborating with other professionals, it is essential that we ask ourselves if we are attending the appropriate meetings or organizing them in a timely manner.
When the percentage of ineffective meetings happens to be high, it is largely due to the fact that we repeat wrong patterns time and again. Although it might seem contradictory, one of them is constancy. Organizing meetings based on an unwavering commitment to periodicity might be counterproductive. This does not mean that meetings are not incredibly valuable to carry out useful activities such as monitoring key issues. Nonetheless, professionals and organizations must show flexibility, by adapting to new dynamics and the changes that their environment experiences. In other words, a startup may need to set up daily meetings at the beginning of its adventure, but over time these appointments should become less and less frequent. On the other hand, a solid company may forget how beneficial could be giving voice to its employees and scheduling periodic meetings where these professionals can share their ideas and doubts.
Observing the behavior of the participants is a good way to check the quality standard of meetings. When there is disorder, those summoned might not show any predisposition to collaborate and the general mood is negative, and it is very likely that these factors respond to a wrong approach. If this is the case, apart from reviewing the periodicity of the meetings, the organizers should also ask themselves: What is the purpose of these appointments? If they have to think about the answer or this one is not clear, there is a problem. In fact, this is another of the most common mistakes. Meetings must always have a well-defined purpose and should only be set when they are necessary.
Have you ever attended a meeting and thought you played no role at all? Many times, encouraged by a collaborative spirit or preconceived ideas, organizers may be led to think they need to call more people than it is necessary. It is crucial to understand that when professionals attend meetings, they are postponing and leaving aside the work they are doing. That is, when people who cannot contribute to the meeting’s goal or are not related to the meeting’s topics attend them, the organization’s productivity drops as a consequence.
Sometimes, in the course of the daily working life, professionals get carried away by improvisation. A setback arises and, with the desire to solve it in the shortest period of time possible, they set a meeting hurriedly. In this case, the problem is the fact that they do not usually take into account issues like: Are all the professionals who should attend the meeting present? Have the participants laid aside important tasks? Are there any more priority issues? Will all the important aspects be addressed at the meeting? etc. Effective meetings need a preparation margin to define the central topics, check the availability of the participants, choose the suitable spaces, calculate the duration of the meeting or prepare the proper management tools.
Meetings should be planned in advance, but this does not mean that there is no place in them for creativity or innovation. These types of encounters are perfect for sharing new ideas, for example, in a brainstorming exercise. Therefore, it is important to try to give voice to all the participants, and not to fall into the mistake of always letting the same people lead the speech. If that’s the case, the organization will be missing a great opportunity to move forward and grow. This is one of the reasons why it is key to take care of the figure of moderators, since they have the responsibility of establishing word shifts, controlling times and contents and intervening in case the topics deviate.
Finally, for a meeting to be useful, the conclusions of the meeting must be clear by setting goals and indicators, and by specifying the different actions to be carried out. Participants should leave the appointment with a real idea of their role in these actions and which their level of responsibility is. Before the end of the meeting, it is advisable to leave some time devoted to resolve doubts, make suggestions and discuss.
The CEU IAM Business School has designed an Executive MBA aimed at those professionals who, after years of work, are willing to give the final push to their career. The students of this training course occupy intermediate positions, work as functional managers, are entrepreneurs or have great potential. They all share the same interest: they need to develop their managerial skills and competencies. If you fit this profile, do not hesitate. Ask for further information about our EMBA!