Internal meetings account for more than 60% of all the meetings held by the organization in a year, yet almost nobody values them. Most of us think of them as ineffective, boring, inefficient and a waste of time that could be spent on the real deep work. Meetings are also considered a failure when it comes to improving collaboration. The average time spent on meetings in the 1960s was significantly shorter, with less than 10 hours then and around 23 hours now a week. Taking into consideration that an average American works for around 40 hours a week, meetings take more than half of this work-time. With all this bad PR, why meetings are still a thing and why they become more and more time-consuming?
Unfortunately, it’s not the idea of meeting a problem. It’s the way that it’s being realized. Around 79% of managers said that meetings they initiated were extremely productive, only 56% said the same about meetings initiated by other people. What’s the reason behind this? Studies show that people who are the most active during a meeting are the ones that consider it most productive. And usually, the most active participant is the leader. It means that you have everything you need to make changes.
But why not to give up on internal meetings altogether?
As mentioned above, it’s not the idea of meeting a problem. Quite the opposite – a properly ran internal meeting can be a very powerful tool to save time, prevent disinformation in your team as well as makes plans, do creative work, and solve problems much easier. Did you know that the solution to a problem worked out by a whole group is better than the best solution proposed by an individual from this group? This phenomenon is called collective intelligence and is one of the many reasons why meetings are so important – because they are the best way to induce it.
Workers’ perceived effectiveness of meetings has been shown to correlate with their general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their job, which is extremely important for your business to grow. Job satisfaction is a vital factor taken into account while considering leaving a company. A satisfied employee will not leave your business even in difficult times, and opinion about your company as a business caring for its workers will cause more skilled and talented people knocking at your door, asking for an interview, and you need their talents to grow your business.
Now you know why it is essential not to give up on your internal meetings, but knowing how much time they take, and how unproductive they really are there must be something you can do. And there is, starting with realizing what types of meeting you may need.
Types of internal meetings you should know
Types of meetings is a topic that deserves its own blog post, but here are 7 that are considered most important and appear in many classifications. If you want to know more about different types of meetings let me know in the comments below 😉
It’s purpose it’s to create something new, innovate. It’s important that everybody feels free to speak their mind. Whether you want to design a new product or an ad, or maybe a website you want to have as many ideas as possible because with a lot of ideas there is a greater probability of having a really good one. A creative meeting especially must be planned and prepared ahead. It’s important to note that the plan must be quite flexible, to catalyze creativity of your team.
Planning meetings are the next step to take after the creative one. You have an idea, now, to make it a reality, you have to set measurable goals and plan your way to achieve them.
There always will be situations when you won’t know what to do. Who to hire? What software to choose? Is your product ready to be shown to your clients yet? Meet up and ask your team.
Nowadays everything changes so fast that it’s hard to keep track. That’s why you sometimes need to sit down with your team and tell them what’s been going on in and around your business lately. It’s best to do it regularly, so every member of your team is always well informed.
Problem-solving & emergency
Something went wrong and this is the type of meeting that should help in finding the best solution. It’s important to create a friendly atmosphere – a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirms that positive emotions (even the slightest, induced by a simple laugh) facilitates creative problem-solving.
Team building & motivation
According to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, there are two independent types of factors responsible for job satisfaction: dissatisfiers (or hygiene factors) which are for example salary, relationships with managers and co-workers, work conditions, etc.; and satisfies (or motivators), for example, status, opportunities for growth and responsibility. Having team building and motivation meetings in your company help you both resolve problems of dissatisfiers by improving relations between your employees and provides motivators, by showing them appreciation and giving them an opportunity for personal development.
Saying that starting a new job is stressful is an understatement – you don’t know anyone, everything is a little bit different and you probably spend in your workplace around 40 hours a week which is an awful lot. Research shows that all this stress impairs job performance. Onboarding meetings, both one on one and with the whole team will reduce the stress and improve the productivity of your new employees.
Before you start solving your problem, you have to know exactly where it lies. Ask members of your team what do they think about internal meetings in your company. It’s best to create an anonymous survey, so everyone can answer without fear of being judged. Also, it will give you the certainty that you’ll get honest answers. Then write down the findings of your survey, discuss and analyze it together with your team, so every member has a clear understanding of what the problems are.
You know where you’ve gone wrong, now you need to establish collaborative goals with your team, and you should make sure that your goals are specific, achievable and measurable.
Think of something that can serve as an indicator of a successfully achieved goal. First of all, you will have to reevaluate your meetings in the eyes of your team members and employees, but this is not enough. The quality of internal meetings might improve, but what about the time spent on them? You definitely should measure it, and the best tool to use for it is TimeCamp. It’s easily accessible through your browser, desktop, and mobile apps and integrates with more than 50 most well-known tools for business. You can use it to track how much time your team spends on meetings and how much time is spent on deep work. With a good, flexible and adjustable “meeting template” you will achieve your productive meetings in no time.
How to conduct a perfect internal meeting?
A perfect internal meeting is only an abstract idea, but it’s something to aspire to. The best way to start improving your meetings is to follow a template and adjust it to your needs.
Before inviting anyone, think about the goal of the meeting. What do you want to achieve? How do you want to achieve it with this meeting? Is it really needed, or maybe the matter you want to discuss can wait until one of your regular information sharing meetings?
Now, you can rethink who you want to invite to your meeting. There should only be those who really need to be. Decision makers in that particular case you will be discussing or consultants, for instance. Every person invited should have something valuable to say, and something valuable to take from this meeting.
Create your agenda – it will guide you through the meeting. If you have time before the meeting, try to ask those invited what they want to discuss. Then, include their suggestions in your agenda. Remember to schedule time for each item on the agenda to avoid needless digressions, as well as to schedule the Q&A time.
The hindsight technique
If the meeting is very important, try the prospective hindsight technique. Imagine that the meeting has failed. Then, try to work backward to establish what could go wrong and plan to prevent it from happening.
Greet attendees and start your internal meeting with an opening statement presenting its goal. Make sure that every item on your agenda is discussed within the previously set amount of time.
Appreciate active and encourage less engaged attendees
Appreciate active participants because their engagement makes the internal meeting more productive. Don’t forget to encourage those less engaged in a friendly manner. To engage participants you can try experimenting with a variety of time formats and changing the venue where the internal meeting takes place. If you want your team to be more focused try brainwriting. It’s very similar to brainstorming but involves writing the ideas on a piece of paper, and it prevents groupthink.
Keep it as short as possible. Discuss what needs to be discussed and let your employees get back to their deep, focused work.
After the internal meeting send a short overview to attendees. Remind them of what decisions have been made, what tasks have been assigned and who is responsible for them.
To sum it up
Whether we like them or not, internal meetings are very important. They impact not only collaborative but also individual work performance. When conducted well they can bring a lot of benefits to your business. With so many different types of meetings for different purposes, it’s not easy to create the perfect internal meeting formula. However, knowing basic strategies and mechanisms will allow you to run as productive meetings as can be.