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30 March 2016

20 WAYS TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE – Minimise Meetings

Productivity means higher output using your current resources, or achieving the same level of sales with less resource.

Meetings are the beating heart of a functional management control system –  but unless they’re managed properly, can be unproductive and a waste of time.  For those who still remember John Cleese, his video arts company created a memorable video “Meetings Bloody Meetings” which captured beautifully the essence of time wasting.  It portrayed the weekly Monday morning production meeting, attended by the same people, at the same time, for 2 hours, every week – rain or shine.

There was never an agenda, relevant people weren’t invited, nothing was minuted from the previous meeting so actions weren’t monitored, items were dealt with ad-hoc, resulting in conversations going round in circles, and sometimes there was very little to discuss but the chair failed to cancel the meeting. It was basically chaos and had no positive impact on the business other than wasting 12 hours (that’s 6 people for 2 hours) of valuable management time. Does this sound familiar?

Meetings must be minimal, in quantity, in time and in participants.  Here are a few basic rules:

  1. Have a formal agenda, in a logical order, with time frames against each item, circulated at least 1 or 2 days in advance for people to prepare.
  2. Appoint one person as the chair, and that chair is responsible for ensuring the meeting stays on topic, and items effectively dealt with.
  3. Recurring meetings should still have an agenda to document any other business, and circulate the previous meetings action list as a reminder to get things done.
  4. Only invite the relevant people. Don’t have two people from the same department in the meeting. Managers should do their research, and know what’s going on.
  5. One meeting at a time. There is nothing more frustrating than having whispered sub-conversations going on around you, whilst you are trying to resolve a specific issue, and those hushed conversations means those people are not concentrating on the meeting.
  6. Document action plans, making sure each task or action required has a named person responsible for it, and a due date by when it has to be completed.
  7. The action log should be the first item on the agenda at each meeting – if people are not held accountable then the meetings are fruitless.

The best meetings are driven by specific reports and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to proactively drive the business objectives forward.  The meetings should focus on facts and figures, reasons and causes of variances against the plan. Then work on identifying solutions in order to improve, even incrementally, the next time round. By continuously measuring, reviewing and removing barriers to performance, productivity can only increase.

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My book “20 Ways to Be More Productive” offers easy tips, case studies and ways you can improve productivity and save money in every aspect of your business.