Music to your ears, right?
That happened last week at Shopify. They have decided what many of us already know – a lot of meetings are unnecessary and, unproductive.
Shopify is deleting almost 10,000 calendar events – a total of 76,500-plus hours. They are also:
– Making all Wednesdays meeting free.
– Prohibiting recurring meetings of more than three people.
– Limiting larger meetings to only Thursdays and capping their length
– Encouraging employees to get out of large Slack groups
According to Bloomberg, long meetings have come to be a bug of sorts in the hybrid workplace. In 2020 and 2021, the number of meetings per week doubled, a Microsoft study indicated.
Productive meetings are great. But unproductive meetings are not. Meeting and Zoom fatigue are real problems in today’s workplace. Long, unnecessary meetings are morale drainers and cost organizations millions of dollars in wasted time. Fight the urge to meet just to meet.
– Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself or ask the person planning the meeting, “Is there another way to accomplish what you want without meeting?”
– If you must meet, ALWAYS start and end on time.
– Consider starting all meetings at odd times – instead of starting at 2:00, start at 1:57. Starting at an odd time helps people pay attention and hopefully increases the probability that the meeting will actually start on time. Or you might try this, “I need an answer, resolution or suggestion on __________ and if you can give me one by Monday, 1:00 pm we can avoid having a meeting.”
– Practice the habit of having very short meetings. Dr. Nido Quebin, president of High Point University, has 5-minute meetings, fast action conversations, and they are always at the other person’s office and he never sits down. Another way to do this is to have meetings standing up.
– Only invite people critical to the meeting outcome.
– Briefly explain the process of what you need in the beginning. For example, “I need a few ideas to pass on to the board for their consideration on where to spend our surplus”. were not acted on.
– If you must meet, get creative. Consider meetings while walking, working out, or carpooling. Use your phone to record the conversation to capture the ideas from your “meeting”
– Use Yoodli, a new technology, that helps presentation effectiveness and helps those who talk a lot on Zoom meetings realize they are dominating the conversation.
– Be very clear of the meeting intentions and objections before you meet
– Use a “parking lot” board to capture ideas or questions not relevant to the meeting objectives.
– Consider having quick training sessions on meeting management tools, processes and structure once every six months or yearly
– The reason we dislike meeting is they are run poorly. It is not the content in a lot of cases but the process. If a meeting is run well, we do not mind if they go longer than expected because they are productive and are not wasting our time. All meetings are not bad, all bad meetings are bad. Even so, less can be more.
Shopify CEO and co-founder Tobi Lutke told Bloomberg that “the best thing founders can do is subtraction.”
“It’s much easier to add things than to remove things. If you say yes to a thing, you actually say no to every other thing you could have done with that period of time,” he wrote.
While not all meetings are unnecessary, many can be.
We all have limited time. Use your meeting time wisely.
*Thank you to • Norm Hull, CSP, Leadership Expert and Group Alchemist and @RussellRichardson for their meeting suggestions.