Small Business Management: How to Avoid Needless Meetings
Meetings are an interesting phenomenon of the business world. When used appropriately, they can be powerful tools for creating team based strategies, but more often they get a bad rap as time sinks where employees and managers will talk in circles in order to avoid losing face or seeming like they aren’t engaged. Then more useless meetings employees are dragged to, the less engaged they tend to become as the point of meeting becomes diluted by the routine postures adapted by participants. Small business owners should avoid calling in meetings constantly, instead only bringing their whole team together when it is actually necessary. Here are some strategies for avoiding calling in unnecessary group meetings while still ensuring that productivity is kept at high levels.
Use a wider range of communication tools. Communications during meetings are valuable because of both the immediacy of face to face communication as well as the ability of and entire team to participate and engage. However, team members can use communication technologies such as dropbox, basecamp, gotomeeting and skype to remain in contact, share documents and even conversations between each other without the need for leaving their desks. In this way, they can gain the benefits of a physical meeting without the associated time costs and without leaving their workstations.
Check in with your managers. Your team leaders can give you updates on the progress of their projects, then from there you can make the call whether or not a full meeting is necessary. Call a meeting if you notice problems such as two teams which are supposed to be coordinating moving in separate directions, or a poor comprehension of organizational goals. These larger problems are often more quickly solved in a group environment, where minor tweaks may be better addressed to individuals in order to save time.
When a meeting is unavoidable, define what the goal of the meeting is before going into it. One problem with meetings is that, even if they are called for legitimate reasons, they may quickly devolve into circling around a few topics or ideas. Set an agenda for your meeting, and then define the solutions it is intended to produce so that once those are arrived at, the meeting does not need to progress any longer. Remember, a meeting is a tool, and not something to be engaged in for the sake of meeting, at least internally. While you may have to have meetings with certain clients or partners in order to keep the relationship strong, internally you should avoid all but the most necessary meetings.
Photo Credit to Jim Larrison on Flickr