The average employee spends 6 hours in meetings. Managers on average spend more than 23 hours a week in meetings, and that number is growing, according to research. Meetings are an activity that takes up so much time and energy at the workplace. They get little thought from a culture perspective, and not enough effort is spent on this problem. Meetings are one of the most critical, yet overlooked areas of company culture.
The reasons for this lack of attention are many. No clear process for making them effective. The sometimes last minute and informal nature of information sharing. The study of meetings is broad and diverse, but given the wildly disparate nature of meetings, there tends to be few actionable takeaways.
At Hybryd, we’ve spent the last year dedicated to improving meetings in organisations of all kinds. We’ve learned from hundreds of experiments and trials how meetings flow. Below are a few of our key findings.
Culture is a company's soul, It’s the set of beliefs and behaviours that direct people in how they act and interact. When you onboard new members meetings are how the team interacts. Meetings are what give your new team mates the best clues to your culture. Where they will really notice it is in meetings. They are a window to your organisation.
How can meetings re-enforce culture?
- Do people invited to a meeting know what the meeting is about?
- Do they know what outcome the meeting is set out to achieve?
- Does the meeting leader share information in a timely manner?
- Do participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas?
- Are meeting outcomes and decisions available for people who didn’t go to the meeting?
- Are they only accessible to a select group of people?
While some meeting practices move you away from your desired culture, other meeting practices reinforce a positive culture. Clients came to us because they want to improve both outcomes and culture. Companies often introduced new meeting processes, meetings structured with the top leadership, and an overarching framework for the meeting. The problem is getting the team onboard with these processes.
The key to better outcomes is to make it easy for team members to adopt the framework. It needs to be clear, easy to use and there when they need it.
Here are some of the best practices that will help you become a meeting hero:
- Set an objective, make sure it is specific and actionable.
- Set an agenda to make sure that nothing gets missed in meetings.
- Agendas also make sure your team is all on the same page when the meeting starts.
- Pre-work when there are knowledge gaps that need to be closed by meeting start.
- Notes, even small reminders help increase information sharing across the company.
- Assigning notes to actions helps accountability in between meetings to ensure project success.
After the first few meetings using this system you will see a noted shift in both outcomes and employee engagement. Goal success and accountability help any company and their culture.
Your culture should guide how your meeting processes are enacted and how your meetings are run. In the new world of hybrid work teams often work blended models. It is more important than ever to keep a careful eye on culture. The meetings your teams have offer a multitude of opportunities to express the values and goals the company holds.
Respecting everyone's time, communicating clearly and easy transfer of information are just a few of the ways you can support culture through meetings. Clear objectives, agendas and pre-work are just a few of the important tools that can help you on your way.