Collaboration Software v Lengthy Meetingson 20 January 2016
Popular they may be, but meetings are shocking time wasters, often using up a dozen people's mornings or afternoons in one fell swoop. With business leaders or project managers invariably the most concerned with keeping people productive, and with the core subject of so many meetings often related to efficiency and process issues, there is something ironic in the fact that it is those same leaders and managers who are often the most culpable for calling unnecessary and overly long impromptu office floor gatherings.
But if a meeting of minds really is necessary (is it, really?) where and how should that event occur? What alternatives to a traditional meeting are there?
Technology is your ally, and using collaboration software for better teamwork and communication can be an extremely effective way of lessening the need for regular, time-consuming meetings. Rather, people communicate as and when necessary, have their discussions focused, threaded and easily traceable for other members of the team to run through if need be.
Also, with an online workspace it is a natural and simple part of the process that every team member be informed as to the latest developments of a project, therefore further reducing the need for meetings to be called.
While it is often considered more efficient to make a presentation to a complete group, saving you, the presenter, from having to repeat yourself on a multitude of separate occasions, you're still wasting other people's time on mass. The larger the group, the more likely you are to lose people's attention and the less likely they are to ask essential questions or make meaningful contributions. And if none of this really matters, then why have the meeting in the first place?
It is better, then, to limit meetings to small groups of three to five people or less. This may require more of the presenter's time, but this way people will communicate better, and you'll leave the meeting with greater confidence in the key points having been clearly digested.
Relationships are important in a team. Without trust, we can't be confident in our information, or that a delegated task will get done. So instead of an impersonal, one-way meeting, set time aside for regular social gatherings that can prove highly valuable to a team's ability to collaborate and problem-solve. A weekly informal breakfast, for example, will bring departments together, allow people to enjoy a conversation and also possibly clear up a particular matter that otherwise might have been left to fester.
Once a team is connected with the right tools for collaboration, do battle with a culture of meetings by looking for sensible alternatives that focus on utilising time more effectively, and on properly engaging individuals in topics that really do warrant discussion.