Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings

Have you ever sat down at a meeting table and asked yourself, "why the heck are we even here?"? Me too - many times. I used to have a department head that held a basic "what's happening" meeting the last hour on Friday and again first thing Monday morning. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

According to the Wall Street Journal report on Wharton Centre For Applied Research, the average CEO in the United States spends 17 hours a week in meetings that costs the company $42,500 per year. Senior executives spend 23 hours a week in meetings and cost up to $46,000.00 per year each. Middle managers spend 11 hours a week in meetings and cost up to $20,000.00 a year each.

There are some things that you can do to counteract some of these expenses. First and foremost, ask yourself if the meeting is really a necessity. Look to see if there's a more cost-effective way to achieve your objective - by phone, email, or water cooler.

Speed up your meetings by supplying all participants with an agenda two to three days prior to the meeting. Include objectives, issues to be discussed, start and end times for each issue, a list of attendees and any preparations required. Assign someone as a time-keeper to keep things on track according to the set time limits.

When making out your participant list, be sure the people you're choosing really need to be there. If not, you're just completely wasting their time. Pretty soon everyone will be questioning their need to be at any of your meetings.

And by all means, manage your meetings. Keep discussions on track. Use the parking lot - if the group starts getting off track, write that issue on a sticky note and post it to discuss it more at the end of the meeting, if there's time, or at a later date.

Good meetings don't just happen. If you manage the process, the results will take care of themselves.

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