Over half our time in meetings is wasted and it’s costing the UK economy £26 Billion a year! That’s according to new research from Epson and Cebr! The results found that UK office workers estimate they spend 4 hours in meetings per week and that 2 hours 39 minutes of this time is wasted.
Of course, meetings can be a useful way of getting things done, sharing ideas, solving problems, updating people on progress, but so often they don’t. Why is this? Well, according to the report, in order of priority, the main causes of wasted time in meetings were found to be:
- Repetition (That’s ‘Repetition’!)
- Lack of focus amongst attendees
- Unstructured agendas
- Too many people involved
- People arriving late!
I can see this, but can’t help thinking that one of the biggest causes is that on so many (too many?) occasions, the purpose of the meeting hasn’t been established or agreed.
I was once asked to observe a Senior Management Meeting for a client to see how they worked as a team. I sat and watched a dozen or so very well paid people sit about reading bits of paper to each other.
After about half an hour, I simply asked them to stop and write down on a piece of paper their answer to ‘what’s the purpose of this meeting?’. There was a silence and stunned looks – the responses ranged from ‘Well, it’s the first Tuesday of the month – we always meet then’, to ‘He told me to come’ and ‘I was scared of missing something’!!!
Next meeting you’re in and it seems to be going nowhere, I dare you to ask that question…
‘What’s the purpose of this meeting?‘
Equally, the next meeting you’re running, make sure you, and everyone else who’ll be there, are very clear about ‘what will we have achieved by the end of this meeting?’
If you can’t answer that, consider if it’s actually worth having.