As a consultant I am asked to facilitate critical meetings and/or evaluate meeting or facilitator performances. I have yet run across an organization that lives for meetings. No company believes if they could only have one more meeting then they would reach the pinnacle of their business existence. It reminds me of a common story a life-coach might offer his client reminding the client of the concept of work-life balance. A man is on his deathbed and wishes for one last day at work so he will be satisfied and complete.
I do run across organizations that hold mandatory and regularly scheduled meetings because … well … because that is what they think all organizations are suppose to do. (They should but not for that reason.) The meetings are scheduled and placed on everyone’s calendars. Some even go so far as to create performance review metrics concerning attendance, timeliness, and participation for the above mentioned meetings. Literally, the same agenda is passed around at each meeting, with the same ground rules clearly identified somewhere on the page. I’m not anti-meeting when I say this, but, what a waste. A waste of time and resources for the company.
Meetings Must Accomplish Something
A meeting must have value and that value is determined by the behavioral change your department or organization sees based on the content and outcomes of the meeting. Leadership or management should set goals and objects for these meetings in the same way they w0uld for any other element in their domain that is responsible for adding value to the organization.
Here are some ideas you may wish to consider:
- Set an annual budget for meeting costs (including time/resources)
- Set a scheduled begin and end – start on time and end on time or end early
- Create a unique agenda for each meeting
- Have your team understand what it costs to run or go over on time
- Measure performance against that budget
- Use the meeting to set team objectives
- Avoid one-way meetings – delegate assignments – track results
- Rotate (delegate) who runs the meeting – teach your staff meeting prep & management
- Document success / accomplishments from meeting assignments
- Report accomplishments up!
Understanding Meeting Costs
Often a hidden cost within business that is overlooked or poorly managed is the time spent in meetings. In today’s post, I am specifically referring to the mandatory staff meeting, often weekly. A department or team rarely understands just how expensive the meeting is, let alone how much it costs the company to go past the scheduled time.
When I tell a client that a 20 person half-day weekly department meeting costs the company $220,000 annually, they just about drop out of their seats. They begin to understand that the cost demands value to the organization. I show them this simple equation:
Staff x Rate x Hours x 50 weeks = Annual Cost of meetings
20 x $55.00 x 4 x 50 = $220,000
- Staff would be the number of employees attending the meeting. I used 20 in this example.
- Rate is the fully burdened hourly rate that you would get from HR or your Accountant. I used $55.00 per hour for staff averaging 70K salaries in this example.
- Hours are the scheduled time each week of your meeting. I used 4 for this example
So going over schedule in this example would be:
20 x $55.00 or $1100 an hour to the company. (2x for the opportunity cost if you want to be picky or $2200 per hour)
Some immediate benefits
When you begin to hold your meetings accountable for more then update sessions and keep track of your costs you will begin to see some startling changes in your teams performance.
- Reducing meetings to an hour each week can be used to report savings to the company.
- Delegation and the results from those assignments can be used to promote tangible benefits against the costs
- Rewarding your team for completing meetings before the scheduled end time. This can be assigned as savings
- Teach the team when to use the entire staff or a subset to save the costs to the company
- Monthly reporting to your manager will help them understand the value of this large expanse.
Who knows, you may be asked to run your bosses meetings or be asked to train other managers because your department will be doing so well.