meeting with team members

If you’re like most business people, meetings take up the majority of your day. The reason why we like to spend time in our offices is so that we can meet and collaborate on projects with our coworkers. At face value business meetings are seemingly productive. There’s typically a manager in charge who is leading a group of people towards a common goal. While some may be productive, many are actually quite the opposite. In fact, it’s estimated that larger corporations lose a whopping $75 million a year due to unproductive meetings.

These losses often go by undetected by finance departments because there’s no way to catch them. If you’re still unsure how they can be so costly take note of these four reasons why business meetings can cost your company valuable time and money.

Most Participants Don’t Need to Be There

One of the biggest issues with business meetings is that they tie up unnecessary resources. Unless it’s a board meeting or a meeting that requires a group decision there’s a good chance most of the participants don’t need to be present.

Thanks to scheduling technology adding another participant to a meeting is just a click of a button. That said, those who schedule these meetings are a bit trigger happy when adding team members. Often times more people are added just to give the meeting extra weight to make the meeting seem more important.

If you’re attending a meeting you need to either provide value or gain it. If you don’t see yourself doing either of those two things it’s your job to put yourself in a position where you can.

Wasted Time is Multiplied by The Number of Attendees

If you’re in an hour long meeting with eight participants and get little accomplished how much time is wasted? Most people would think you’ve only wasted an hour. The truth is you’ve wasted eight hours. The company has paid eight hours worth of salary for a single meeting. That equals one full workday.

What this means is that the cost of every meeting is multiplied by the number of participants. If these meetings are ineffective it can get very expensive for the company.

Partial Participation

The truth is we’ve all been caught daydreaming in a meeting. Active participation by everyone in attendance is very rare. If it’s a conference call it almost never happens. Whether you’re on your phone or thinking about lunch it’s easy to get distracted during a meeting.

That time you and the other participants spend disengaged is time wasted for the company. More often than not, your aren’t engaged for a good reason. Again, if you have nothing to add or to gain you’ll probably end up losing focus. You and anyone else who fail to participate in that meeting should think twice about joining next time.

Many Meetings Aren’t Formally Organized

Surprisingly, most meeting organizers fail to create a formal structure prior to the gathering. If a meeting has structure it’s likely going to be a productive one. On the contrary, if a meeting lacks that structure you can kiss that time goodbye (generally speaking).

There are plenty of steps you can take to make sure your meeting is well planned in advance. First and foremost you should always send out an agenda line items and the time needed to be spent on each. To make sure you’ve included the right people, make sure you put participants names next to each line item to be discussed. If there are people who didn’t make it onto a line item, then it may be best to leave them out of the meeting.

At the end of the day there will always be a couple meetings that are a waste of time. As a manager or leader it’s your job to reduce that number as much as possible. As you can see, it can get very costly very quickly.

Renzo Costarella is an entrepreneur, avid learner, and startup enthusiast currently living in Silicon Valley. He consults for several startups in the Bay Area and is pursuing a few ideas of his own.

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