Should You Do Away With Weekly Meetings?

A few years ago, a leading technology company saw its profitability and productivity declining. It surveyed 30,000 employees worldwide to determine how to improve organizational effectiveness. Employees responded that only 54 percent of the time spent in meetings was time well spent. They cited unclear meeting purpose, unnecessary standing meetings, overly long meetings and unnecessary attendees as reasons for unproductive meetings.

Too many people get together without really knowing why, simply because it was on their weekly schedules. Admit it, you’ve been there. You’ve probably called some of those meetings. I know I have.

What’s less obvious to people, however, is the ripple effect those unproductive meetings have on an organization, especially when top executives meet. My Bain colleague Michael Mankins and his team analyzed time use at one large company and found that people there spent 300,000 hours a year just supporting the weekly executive committee meeting. Using data-mining tools to analyze the Outlook schedules of everyone in the company, they found that the executive committee meeting required preparation and ancillary meetings by unit heads, senior advisers, teams … and more teams. You get the point. The meeting prep radiates outward like a forest fire consuming widening circles of employees.

But meetings don’t have to get the best of you. You can manage them as closely as you manage every investment. Here are three things you can do.

Read more: Bain

Chief Executive :Chief Executive magazine (published since 1977) is the definitive source that CEOs turn to for insight and ideas that help increase their effectiveness and grow their business. Chief Executive Group also produces e-newsletters and online content at chiefexecutive.net and manages Chief Executive Network and other executive peer groups, as well as conferences and roundtables that enable top corporate officers to discuss key subjects and share their experiences within a community of peers. Chief Executive facilitates the annual “CEO of the Year,” a prestigious honor bestowed upon an outstanding corporate leader, nominated and selected by a group of peers, and is known throughout the U.S. and elsewhere for its annual ranking of Best & Worst States for Business. Visit www.chiefexecutive.net for more information.