When I first started on my journey here at The Chariot Group, neither I or the owners knew specifically what I would being doing, what value I could add, etc. Being “comfortable with ambiguity” was required as we figured those things out.
Those early days were filled with meetings; what better way to get to know people and issues than being a fly on the wall during all sorts of meetings! It worked and before long, I knew enough about this and that to at least not feel like an idiot. But honestly, I was overwhelmed. Learning a new job is one thing, learning a new industry is another beast altogether.
It’s been about five months and to date, I’m still in a lot of meetings, which has me thinking about them. Meetings are expensive, very expensive, extraordinarily expensive. Consider this hypothetical situation:
A manager wants to discuss something with his team; it could be a new strategy, a problem with operations, a client concern or otherwise. The manager wants everyone to commit to at least one hour for this meeting. So, at a minimum, the meeting will be over $250 in labor costs and pushing $530 as it gets closer to two hours in duration.
The conservative estimates above equate to a significant hourly cost of labor for a one or two hour meeting.
Now, I invite you to consider the table below, which communicates some realistic “issues” affecting the money wasted during the hypothetical one hour meeting:
This data, albeit simplistic, should bother you! It bothers me, and I only offered an estimate on wasted labor costs.
Consider the other costs associated with meetings:
- Travel costs
- Catering costs
- Post meeting costs to include data entry, document processing/editing, etc.
- 3rd party participant (contractor, vendor, partner, client, etc.) costs
It’s mind blowing when you think about it, especially considering many of us attend multiple meetings each week.
Thankfully, The Chariot Group’s culture is such that tardiness, lack of preparation, and disengagement is rare. In addition, we’re lucky in that we have access to and utilize technology effectively to ensure there is very little down time during the meeting itelf and that travel costs can be eliminated or significantly reduced. We also utilize technology to ensure document/data processing is done in real time during meetings to eliminate “post meeting” work.
But we’re not perfect, and certainly we have had our problems with meeting inefficiencies. To that end, we are communicating just how expensive inefficient meetings are and we’re making sure that our employees are cognizant of just how much these things cost. (Shoot, if I had it my way, we’d use a digital signage “ticker” in the room calculating the personnel costs so participants could immediately see it.)
What about you?
What are your issues when it comes to meeting ineffectiveness or inefficiencies?
- Are you enabling tardiness by waiting for everyone?
- Are you enabling lack of preparation by taking time in the meeting to bring everyone up to speed AGAIN?
- Have you failed to train employees on how to use the technology in the room?
- Do you believe everyone has to be physically in the room to be engaged?
- Have you failed to invest in technology to enable long-distance collaboration?
- If you have technology in the room, have you failed to upgrade it and, because of that, it doesn’t work properly?
- Have your meeting facilitators or leaders failed to organize and/or plan for an efficient meeting?
- Do you have the wrong people in the room?
What are your plans to improve?
We all play a part in organizational improvement so don’t rely upon the big boss to tell you or motivate you to change, motivate yourself! Start putting pressure on your peers and let your partners and other stakeholders know that changes are expected from everyone in order to minimize time and maximize productivity. Let your boss know you’re paying attention to the bottom line and you plan on enforcing change in order to maximize efficiency and profits. And finally, let your boss know you may need support in ensuring tools, equipment and training are in place to do so.
And shoot, for giggles or tears, do a quick calculation of labor costs for that meeting; here is a link to a simple meeting calendar. At a minimum, keep this amount visible and top of mind when you start the darn thing.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock.
Time is money!