It’s time to shine a spotlight on an ugly part of workplace culture: status meetings.
Status meetings are a productivity-killing waste of time, according to a recently released Clarizen/Harris Poll survey. In fact, almost 50 percent of respondents indicated they would rather do anything unpleasant -- stand in line at the DMV or watch paint dry, for instance – than sit through another meeting of status updates. Three in five employed adults reported that preparing for a meeting “takes longer than the meeting itself,” while more than one-third of those who actually do attend status meetings called them “a waste of time.”
The survey revealed that people waste a staggering 22.7 percent of their workweek on status meetings. The study, conducted in November 2014 among 2,066 adults, indicated that employed Americans spend an average of 4.6 hours each week preparing for status meetings and 4.5 hours attending them. That’s up from four hours each week four years ago, according to a similar Clarizen/Harris Poll survey conducted in 2011.
Clarizen’s findings echo other market research on the status of the status meeting. In 2012 and 2013, in Salary.com’s “Wasting Time at Work” survey, employees named meetings as their “top time-waster at work” -- topping even the Internet.
Meaningful meetings need active participants
Adding more hours isn't productive: Almost three in five workers reported that they multitask during status meetings. Multitasking is especially popular among workers dialing into meetings. A 2014 InterCall survey examined what else employees do during conference calls. The results ranged from “doing other work” to “using the restroom (on mute).”
In today’s 24/7, fast-paced workplace, multitasking is often praised as a skill. However, it’s actually detrimental to any type of meeting -- whether a status meeting, a company meeting or a brainstorming session. That’s why texting while driving is so deadly. It’s impossible to divide your attention and be totally present. In the case of meetings, divided attention translates to less innovation and fewer meaningful results.
Meeting 1.0 versus Meeting 2.0
So, what do we learn from this? It’s time to evolve from Meeting 1.0, the traditional status meeting, to Meeting 2.0, the action-oriented strategy or brainstorming meeting. Meeting 1.0 looks backward at what employees have already completed -- information that can be shared far more effectively via work-collaboration technology. In fact, if the latest data about a current project and its status is always visible and available to the team, there’s no need for a status meeting.
Meeting 2.0 looks forward. This type of meeting can really make an impact; active participants can yield new product features or even a completely new vision.
Inside today’s real-time, ever-changing environment, leaders should only conduct meetings that drive innovation. These meetings should have a clear purpose, action plan, strategy session and engagement among active participants. Each person should have a role/contribution, with no multitasking, and should participate in a dialogue (not do a monologue).
Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, and giving them time to do work (rather than prepare to present and report on work) is key. By eliminating time-wasting, unnecessary status meetings and maximizing strategic collaboration, companies can drive participation, alignment, awareness and, ultimately, innovation.