The hidden cost of crappy meetings

hidden cost of crappy meetings

There’s a hidden cost of crappy meetings and some of us are starting to realise just how much this cost really is.

Hot on the heals of our recent ugly truth about meetings blog we wanted to explore this underlying cost the vast majority of us are paying. There’s a number of distinct sides to this, first and for most people most importantly is the financial cost. Second, there’s the cost to our wellbeing and there’s also the potential environmental cost. This week we explore each one in turn, hopefully it will open some eyes to what I guess a lot of you out there already suspect.

Meetings are unproductive, that costs money.

When surveyed nearly 70% of executives consider meetings to be unproductive. That’s more than two thirds and to put it into context the infographic we recently published put a figure on this, $37 Billion in the US alone. Let’s spin that on it’s head and assume we stopped having half of those unproductive meetings that could be nearly $20 Billion saved.

It’s estimated that across organisations the amount of time spent in meetings equates to around 15% for all employees. As you move up the ranks that increses dramatically to upwards of 50%. The meeting time is one thing but executives estimate they spend upwards of 4 hours on meeting prep. So again if the 70% figure for meetings being unproductive is true more than 30% of an executives working time could be considered unproductive, because that’s the time spent in crappy meetings.

This is quite frankly stark. It’s hard to pin down exactly what’s to blame. It seems somewhat of a cop out to suggest it’s purely down to the technology, a meeting run well via a video conference is still a well run meeting. What is apparent though, that like most technology we’ve adopted, certain practices have become commonplace without thinking about the wider context and the impact they have as a whole. It seems there’s a symbiotic relationship between the ease of facilitation and the effectiveness of outcomes.

As a marketer the psychology is quite simple to me, things that are easy are often assigned a low value and perhaps this is where we’ve gone wrong. Meetings used to be about productivity and outcomes but we seem to have shifted to a place where meetings are more about having meetings because it’s so easy to have them.

It’s a dangerous place for corporations to be.

Meetings impact on wellbeing.

Employee wellbeing is becoming more and more important to organisations. They realise that happy, engaged employees are more productive, more motivated and less likely to look for employment elsewhere. Crappy, unproductive meetings do nothing to assist. In fact multiple surveys suggest that having better meetings is a route to improving employee wellbeing.

It’s not to be underestimated. Count up the sick days, the drain on talent in an organisation and general lack of productivity and I bet you will find a correlation to bad meetings. It’s a survey that needs to be done, watch this space!

It’s sadly no coincidence that the phrase “A happy workforce is a productive workforce” is certainly very true. The quickest way to mess it up is to disengage the workforce and bad meetings are a quick way to do that. They aren’t the only factor but like many things in our working lives they contribute to the sum of all the other issues and can certainly tip the scales.

Jeff Bezos certainly thinks so. He avoids meetings before 10am, limits attendance to the number of people that can be fed by two pizzas and has banned Powerpoint!

What’s the environmental impact?

This is probaly harder to quantify especially as a huge number of meetings take place remotely. However as the technology has become a part of our working lives there’s always a cost. Server farms create pollution and we certainly need lots of those to power the tools we take for granted.

Technology requires power and for the most part we still rely on power sources that are not very green. Great steps have been made by corporations to buy power from renewable sources but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

data centres in the U.S. alone are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020. Data center efficiency and sustainability is a universal challenge that transcends companies, geographies, and workloads – and there’s no simple solution.”

Colocation America

The technology infrastructure required to support these systems is immense. A large data centre can use more power than a small town. Sadly this way outstrips the capacity delivered by renewable energy. It’s a big issue that’s rarely reported because it’s to a large extent invisible.

It’s not all bad news.

Amazemeet aren’t alone trying to fix this. The hidden cost of crappy meetings is starting to be understood by a host of organisations for whom productivity is vitally important and meetings are squarely in their radar. We’re doing our bit because we know we have to have meetings, we want to make the unavoidable ones great and cut out the unproductive ones where we can.

Let’s get back in control of our meetings

Try Amazemeet, free

Amazemeet version 2.0 is live and there’s more in store for 2020.

amazemeet version 2.0

When Mike started Amazemeet he wanted to help people have effective meetings. Why? Because he’d spent his career working with the world’s biggest companies where most employees hated having meetings.

The meeting canvas was born and this led to the development of the Amazemeet platform to open this tool up to anyone motivated to have more effective meetings. At first it was about being more productive but the Amazemeet team quickly realised that fixing the meeting addiction that’s taken hold of modern business culture was about more. Employee wellbeing was suffering and Amazemeet presented a perfect solution.

The rest as they say was history, 10,000+ users, amazing feedback but more importantly a simple product that really worked to solve a real problem.

So why Amazemeet version 2.0?

Like any product Amazemeet can always get better. The whole team are motivated to make meetings better and that means making Amazemeet super simple to use, intuitive and easy to pick up. The core of the product based around Mike’s original meeting canvas remains but Amazemeet version 2.0 packages it all up in an interface that user will love to use.

Amazemeet version 2.0 comes with a complete visual redesign as well as a simplified user expereince that makes it easy to plan and start your first meeting.

Amazemeet version 2.0 features focus on delivering the benefits of more effective meetings.

"Amazemeet version 2.0 is a complete level up of the market leading meeting effectiveness platform." Click To Tweet

As we look ahead to 2020 the Amazemeet roadmap is looking strong. We have a host of new features we’ll be rolling out to enhance the meeting design canvas. We’re hard at work developing an AI based assistant to add more value to the platform and this along with some other great features will form part of Amazemeet v3.0 which will land in Q2. We’re firm believers in the power of design, alongside v3.0 will be a further refinement of the design and interface to keep Amazemeet at the head of the pack. Lastly we will be launching our enterprise success platform which will be heavily linked to our better meeting community. The community we’re building is all about taking back control of our meetings and our time. We’re committed to creating a place where we can share best practice, learn from each other and support our community as we address the meeting culture problem most of us are facing.

One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is Amazemeet pricing. Every plan has a free trial, even the free forever plan!

Click below and start having better, more effective meetings.

Is the post prandial dip killing your meetings?

post prandial dip

The post prandial dip can play havoc with your meeting effectiveness. Here’s some tactics to stop that happening.

I think it’s worth starting the blog by explaining just what the post prandial dip actually is. Basically it’s the afternoon slump. What you eat for lunch is often a factor but the slump can occur regardless. In fact it’s human nature to feel sleepy in the afternoon. We could end the blog here and tell you all to grab a 2 hour nap in the afternoon, but seen as though that’s not always possible and we’re all about better meetings we’ve come up with a few tactics that can help avoid this in your meetings.

What goes up must come down

Food can be a major factor influencing the slump. Scientifically what’s happening when you eat the wrong kind of foods is either too much refined sugar in your system or low blood sugar. As always to maintain a healthy balance you should try to eat a lunch that consist of carbs, protein and fats. 2 mars bars and a protein shake is not the answer, equally a huge meal with loads of carbs might be delicious but it won’t do your afternoon alertness any favours. As always it’s about striking a balance and ensuring you minimise the drop in energy.

Don’t fight an uphill battle

It would be easy to suggest that food is the only factor in the afternoon slump. It isn’t. Science suggests that a drop in energy in the afternoon is also something that’s hardwired into our systems. Our bodies are governed by circadian rhythms which ebb and flow through the day. researchers discovered dips in alertness during the time we are usually asleep, midnight to dawn but also a secondary dip between 1pm and 4pm. the smart advice is to save the heavy thinking meetings for outside of these times. Preferably the morning when people are at there most alert. If you must meet keep plenty of low GI snacks on hand to keep energy levels up, avoid anything with a high refined sugar content and keep meetings short.

Make it easy for your team

A great way to stave off the afternoon slump is to eat healthily, exercise and get good sleep. As an organisation you can help, have plenty of healthy snacks on hand, provide gym memberships as a perk and don’t routinely keep your employees working until late evening. Smart organisations understand that getting the most out of employees isn’t about the length of time sat at desks, it’s about ensuring they are able to perform when it’s needed.

If you really want to shake the tree try a walking meeting or combine meetings with any activity designed to stave off the slump. It’s impractical to suggest you write off the hours between 1-4pm but it is very practical if you understand that certain meetings are likely to be less effective at this time.

Reach for the coffee

We all know coffee and caffeine is great to stave of sleepiness. It’s also a good option to boost energy post lunch. A scientific study showed that coffee staved of tiredness and improved post-lunch attention and concentration compared to a control group. But, be careful too much coffee is bad for you, and not everyone drinks it. Try tea or something else with caffeine. We should caveat this by saying we’re not suggesting you force feed your employees coffee to keep them alert! We think you’re sensible enough to realise this though.

Keep meetings short in the afternoon, plan them effectively.

If you have to meet in the afternoon keep it short. Plan the meeting well in advance, don’t let it meander. This is where a tool like Amazemeet comes in. The right attendees, the right focus and the right outcomes are only achieved by good meeting design and that’s exactly what Amazemeet does. Grab a look for yourself via the link below.

The addiction of meetings, how to break the cycle.

It’s official we’re addicted to meetings. We have reached the zenith of meeting culture, in some organisations employees spend at least 50% of their time in meetings. It’s become somewhat of a joke at certain organisations, like the BBC in the UK, where some employees entire working week is spent in endless rounds of meetings with little notion of effectiveness or concrete outcomes.

Technology has done us no favours simply making “the drug” more accessible and more easy to schedule than ever before. Like all addictions we know it’s bad for us but we do it anyway. Management research is almost uniformly hostile towards endless meetings but in this age of post truth and post facts we carry on regardless failing to have the better meetings we strive for.

Meetings have variously been described as the “silent productivity killers” but this belies the fact that from time to time they do need to happen. Actions needs to be discussed and outcomes agreed and this often works best when a collective of minds come together. In fact meetings can be amazing, they’re not, but that’s where Amazemeet comes in.

 

 

So how do we break the cycle of something we are so deeply addicted to?

 

One of the major culprits in ineffective meetings is the lack of an agenda. It seems kinda obvious but so many meetings take place without a clear idea of why?

The agenda goes hand in hand with the outcomes. Without a clear idea of what is being discussed and what decisions need to be made meetings can be like meandering down the river on lazy Sunday afternoon.

Often overlooked, how many times have you sat in a meeting thinking I really don’t need to be here or worse I really shouldn’t be here? It’s become culturally normal for purposeless meetings to be called simply as a way of exerting management control or even worse as de facto therapy sessions, inviting as many people as possible to the theatre. Just think if you spend 2 hours a week in one of these that’s over 2 weeks starring at a colleague who is probably thinking the same thing.

You need a way to say no. Or to be more precise you need a way to say no that actually benefits what the meeting is trying to achieve.

 

Can we actually change this?

 

Like any cultural shift it’s not going to be easy. But then we got used to using our phones to book cabs instead of standing on the sidewalk with our arm held out.

We believe the key lies in outcomes. Demonstrable better outcomes from following a process and a format to have more effective meetings will be the real driver. When you can genuinely say:

That meeting was productive

I didn’t attend that meeting, I got on with my tasks and the meeting was better for it.

When we meet we know things will move forward.

We meet less and more effectively and we’re a happier company for it.

Then we know we are moving forward. That kind of sentiment can’t be ignored. In fact I bet there’s a lot of people who will want some of that.

 

Amazemeet is building a community and a platform to make meetings better. Be a part of this sign-up below.

Meeting Scheduling: 4 Tips To Do It Right

meeting scheduling 4 tips

Often time, the way a meeting is scheduled determines how successful it is.

This month’s productivity tips focus on how to transform your usual meetings  into productive, short, and well-spent time – by reflecting on the old old ways of how they are usually conducted, trying to understand the design flaws no one questioned before.

Our featured leadership and time management influencers offer some tips to blow a fresh air into your stuffy, lengthy, and ineffective meetings.

Let’s dive in.

Parkinson’s Law in Meetings

time

A meeting is as long as it’s designed to be – start with the agenda, not time, and collaborate on making duration estimation.

Parkinson’s Law is stated as “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

In the context of meetings, the duration of the meeting is as long as it’s designed to be. If one sets out to have a 1-hour long meeting, it is usually the time it takes regardless of the significance of the agenda discussed.

For example : a manager wants to hold a 30-minute meeting to reach a decision, even though the decision can be reached in 5 minutes, chances are that the discussion will expand to fill the full 30 minutes.

To stop wasting time on this type of meeting, start with the agenda, not the duration.

Make it clear what the things are that you want to talk about – start with Purpose and Agenda, estimate beforehand, and together with other participants how long each item takes, then come up with the meeting duration.

Try this on Amazemeet’s canvas.

Start short meetings X minutes before the hour

clock

Efficient meetings are short ones. The easiest way to have a short meeting is to start it X minutes before the hour.

For example, a meeting at 8:40 that is scheduled to go to 9 rarely goes past 9.

One reason for this is most other events and meetings start on the even hour. So there is often an urgency to finish the short meeting.

And “odd” meeting start times are easy to remember.

I encourage everyone to set their device alarms a couple of minute before each meeting so they are not late.

From Jim Estill – a Leadership blogger and influencer at CEO Blog – Time Leadership

image: clock

Scheduling Meetings like Warren Buffett

Schedule meetings one day in advance so you get to determine how you spend the next foreseeable 24 hours as you feel like it.

Badly timed meetings are bad.

Warren Buffett has been said to usually not schedule his meetings more than one day in advance.

Someone who wants to meet him will be told to call in on Thursday if they want to meet him on Friday.

By doing this, he can determine how he wants to spend his time in the next 24 hours instead of weeks or months in the future. His schedule is therefore relevant, not prescient.

Try doing this for your next meetings, the ones when someone just asks for your time and attention – not dependent on other factors.

This won’t make you as successful as Buffett, but it gives you the power to decide how to spend your next foreseeable hours, and puts you into a more pro-active position in how to conduct your meetings.

Originally written by Jason Fried

image credit

The magical 30-minute meeting

pinapple-halved

Halve the time of your normal 1-hour meeting to experience more focus and success. h/t @peterbregman Click To Tweet

Often we allocate 1 hour for most meetings, phone calls or appointments. Why should that be our standard allotment for so many things?

When we halve that slot – compressing time – people are more likely to: focus on critical points instead of stretching to reach the 1 hour by doing unnecessary tasks and having going-no-where conversations (think Parkinson’s Law).

Moreover, everyone will tend to be on time and come prepared (now that you only have 30 minutes!). Every minute makes a difference.

Most importantly, compressing time spent on meetings and other tactical work gives you more unstructured time to spend on activities and people you love.

Originally written by Peter Bregman

image credit

Mayalytics – measure and visualise your meeting culture

Ask almost anyone in almost any organisation what they think of meetings and they’ll pretty much all say the same thing – “We hate meetings”.

Whilst there is a lot of feeling that meetings are bad, there is often very little or no solid data to back it up in the organisation.

Until now.

Mayalytics is our brand new service to help any organisation measure and visualise their meeting culture and provides high quality quantitative and qualitative metrics to drive improvements.

mayalytics_by_amazemeet

Built to Visualise Meeting Culture

As we built Amazemeet we found we had lots of users but not many customers.

We also found that one of the key reasons for this was that decision makers in our users’ organisations needed data to see if they had a problem with meetings in their company.

Mayalytics was born with the belief that we could  help leaders and decision makers improve their organisation by giving them useful metrics about their meeting culture.

8 Key Metrics Right out of the Box – for free

Using the data we get from your meeting invitation and feedback from specially devised micro surveys, we add a dash of Artificial Intelligence to make sense of the data and provide 8 key metrics about an organisation’s meeting culture:

  1. Meetings per Month: the number of meetings per month across your organisation
  2. Total Meeting Time per month (in hours): how much time meetings are taking.
  3. Employees Meeting Time per month (in hours): how much  employees’ time is spent in meetings.
  4. Employees Meeting Wasted Time per month (in hours): how much employees’ time is wasted in meetings.
  5. Meeting Costs per month (in US Dollars): how much meetings are costing the organisation per month
  6. Meeting Wasted Cost per Month (in US Dollars): how much of the cost of meetings is wasted.
  7. Employee Sentiment before meetings (in %)
  8. Employee Sentiment after meetings (in %)

Incredibly Easy to Use

One of the best things about Mayalytics is how easy it is to use.
To get your Meeting Culture data flowing, all you do is what you’ve always done for meetings that you organise- simply invite an additional email address and we take care of everything else.

Get started!

Getting started is super simple and quick.
Our “Getting Started” video explains everything you need to know to get it started.

 

Start using it right now and building up the data you need to get these useful metrics.

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Why should we work together?

team

How is your company applying collaboration, or teamwork, or collective creative process to the daily operation?

We normally have meetings for this: brainstorming, co-working, all sort of ad hoc or weekly, monthly, yearly etc. It’s permeate from board-level decision making close-door meeting to the open-space employee office, where they do their day-to-day, regardless of whatever job they have.

Collaboration can be both a cure and a curse to obtaining organizational effectiveness, specifically solving demanding problems.

As research showed, working together can be good for finding out unique information, for example: everybody tries and think of  ways to generate revenues for the newly introduced product. You’ll get a bunch of different ideas from individuals, or “the clustered network”, as they would not try to copy each other, as the goal is to come up with various ways.

However, when it comes to the part of interpreting the conclusions from information, interesting things happen: social proof. If someone comes up with the solution, and more people agree to it, I might as well adopt that – everyone think it’s true, it must be true.

From brainstorming to decision making, collaboration helps along the way, but not all the time.

Normally, the way we come to make a decision requires a bit of time, reflection, evaluation of different criteria and scenarios; gathering evidence, data we don’t currently have at hands – and obviously this process needs full attention and focus in order to be effective. Shortcut like social proof, pressures, or just in the context of meetings just won’t make the cut.

In fact, in the working world right now, with all the technology and constant connectivity, we are only able to focus for 3 minutes at a time. And I don’t think this is enough to produce anything meaningful (probably just enough to scan and tweet out an article)

Meetings are good for finding out unique information and finalizing  or making decisions after all the works are done. Lots of issues require more than one individual capability to be solved.

We should work together of course. But just like one doesn’t wear heels to run long distance, collaborate selectively.

Synthesis Work, Manager Daily 5 Minutes and Personal Goals in Meetings

outcome

Outcomes Over Outputs

Outputs are the “what”and outcomes “why”; always ask “Did your outputs make the difference that you expected in your outcomes?”

The 101: Outputs are what you produce e.g pizza, outcomes are what happen as a result of producing and consuming them e.g satisfy my hunger and impact are the effect they have, usually on the longer term e.g got fat.

Outputs are the ‘what’ and outcomes are the ‘why’.

So ask yourself ‘WHY am I doing WHAT I’m about to do’ and if you can’t answer that clearly consider not doing it.

If it is unclear/fuzzy ,take a little time to make it clearer.

In designing your meetings – consider the ‘Purpose’ as your ‘Outcome’ and the agenda and the actions as the ‘outputs’.

At the end of your meeting - did your outputs make the difference that you expected in your outcome? Click To Tweet

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Read more about Managing Outcomes vs Outputs by Deborah Mills-Scofield on Harvard Business Review

Stop Using Meetings For Synthesis Work

business-meeting

Use meetings to chart the course and finalise, not synthesising on the spot. h/t @helpscout Click To Tweet

Collaboration is not useful in every situation. When coming together as a group, people are better at planning and deciding on projects than creating separate pieces, and fixing them together.

To create and produce require deep work and alone time.

If you do this kind of work in the meeting, it not only makes the meeting unnecessarily longer, but also unproductive.

So next time, hold back from synthesising individual works during the meeting, do that in everyone’s own time, and only come together to decide and finalise.

Originally from the blog: https://www.helpscout.net/blog/bad-meetings/

The Daily 5 Minutes For Every Manager

5-sunny

Everyday managers would speak to at least one of their employees for 5 minutes without an agenda to nurture relationships.

“Managers keep a checklist of names so they don’t miss anyone and make this 5-minute talk a daily habit ” – said Rosa Say – acclaimed Leadership and Workplace Culture Coach.

Both sides will start treating each other like people as employees will share their family stories, their struggles and even ideas for improvement.

Managers will know their subordinates better as individuals, therefore gain a more accurate basis of judgment.

In the workplace, acts to facilitate employee-manager relationship are quite underused.

Making an effort to understand one another improves clarity of responsibilities and working expectations.

Originally from the blog of Rosa Say

Never Attend Any Meeting Without a Personal Goal

erik-weihenmayer

Have a clear personal goal attending any meeting. h/t @simpletonbill Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: as a result of this meeting, what can you know, how do you want to feel, what do you do after.

Bill Jensen suggests asking yourself these KNOW- FEEL- DO questions before attending any meeting:

KNOW: What is the one thing you must KNOW that you couldn’t get without attending the meeting? What information, action, advice?

FEEL: How you want to FEEL during the meeting? Included, active, to experience moments of new insights.

DO: As an outcome or result of this meeting, what is the one thing you expect to DO?

Don’t have the answers? Either don’t attend, or make yourself a clear purpose to address these questions during the meeting.

Originally published on medium by Bill Jensen

Image fun-fact: Speaking of setting personal goals, on May 25th 2001, Erik Weihenmayer reached the summit of Mount Everest – and still remains the only blind person to have ever done that.

One avoided meeting is one successful meeting

“The best fights are the ones we avoid.” – Mr. Han, The Karate Kid

How does this apply to meetings?

Of course not all meetings are a waste of time. But half of them are.

Like if you’re going to a fight, and know that there’s a 50% chance that someone, if not everyone, would get hurt pretty badly, would you wonder: what if there’s a better way to settle this dispute in a more peacefully and everyone can avoid getting injured.

My martial art teacher always reminds us: when somebody wanted to challenge you for a fight, or villainously approached you on the street – it doesn’t matter whether you can win the fight or not, you would say to them: “Stop, I don’t want this, go away”.

Ok, maybe it’s not that serious as getting injured, but the wasted costs of meetings in companies are quite significant, 37 billions in salary for US businesses. To understand in figure a bit more in a comparative way, check this out: 11 things the costs of wasted meetings could pay for.

In the workplace, wasted meetings bring about not only loss of money but also hours of possible productive time as people could have worked deeply on their own.

In a great TED talk , Jason Fried from Basecamp said that employees don’t like M&M (Managers and Meetings) because their work time is frequently being interrupted, and that’s why work doesn’t happen at work – they need a more suitable environment to create and produce.

At Amazemeet, all participants are expected to set Purposes and Agenda prior to the meeting, others can vote if this meeting is worth happening, or everything can be sorted out beforehand.

Give people their time to thrive, and stop having bad meetings. Click To Tweet

image credit: karate kids