Far too often, employees are forced to attend meetings that benefit nor them, nor the organization as a whole. What is meetnapping, and how can you prevent it?
If you want to kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon. It probably sounds familiar: precious time is lost in meetings that take longer than expected, go off topic or simply aren't all that necessary.
A 2014 study on time management carried out by Bain & Company indicates that companies spend nearly a fifth of their time in meetings. Whereas busy CEOs dedicate over 2 full working days to meetings each week, their co-workers spend thousands of hours on them on a yearly basis.
Which, needless to say, is quite a lot of time. But are all these meetings useful? That's a legitimate question.
What is meetnapping?
Perhaps you haven't heard it yet, but 'meetnapping' is just a new name for a well-known phenomenon. It is a non-criminal form of abduction in which you or a colleague is kidnapped and forced to attend a useless meeting.
No need for concern if this only happens occasionally, but of course it becomes problematic when such meetings are omnipresent. Because time is, after all, money. So you'd better spend it wisely.
Meetings cost money
Don't get us wrong: meetings are essential, but once again the golden rule is that enough is as good as a feast. That is why marketing bureau LBi built a mobile application called 'Cost of Meeting App', which allows you to calculate the costs of each meeting. All you need to do is enter how many people will attend the meeting and what their hourly wages are. The app will then calculate the cost of that particular meeting for your organization. Pretty handy, right?
A matter of corporate culture
Tips on time management often focus on individual actions - only attend relevant meetings, set your priorities, manage your mailbox. But those tips sometimes contradict with the corporate culture of your organization: if you ignore emails and meeting invites, you risk alienating your co-workers or even your employer. According to Michael Mankins of Bain & Company, this is why "innovative companies are fostering cultures where time is treated as a scarce resource and invested as prudently as capital."
Is your organization guilty of meetnapping? Here are some typical symptoms of bad meetings:
1. Too many cooks spoil the broth
You don't judge a (good) meeting by the number of attendees. If you only invite those directly involved in the decision process, you won’t waste as much time and the meeting will be more efficient.
2. Attending against your better judgement
If you are only vaguely interested in the topic discussed at a meeting, you'd better sit this one out. You may think that in the long run, it might be worth your while to get to know other aspects of the organization. But chances are you'll postpone something far more important or far more urgent.
3. The eternal observer
If only 15 minutes of a 1-hour meeting are of interest to you, don't sit around the entire meeting. People get distracted when something is irrelevant to them, as a result of which they will be less attentive when their attention actually is required. In other words, arrange the agenda in such a way that co-workers do not have to stay to discuss only the first and last item of this meeting.
What is required for a good meeting?
1. An agenda
Preparing a meeting is more than just inviting the attendees. Each meeting requires an agenda with well-defined objectives and potential questions. Is this particular meeting not worth the effort of drawing up an agenda? Then perhaps you should reconsider how useful this meeting really is. Send the agenda to all attendees well before the meeting, so they can prepare themselves or possibly add agenda items of their own. Do you prefer not to bombard your co-workers’ mailboxes? Save the agenda items for each particular meeting in your CRM, where they can consult them anytime, anywhere.
2. A moderator
Each meeting requires a moderator to keep track of time. He or she sees to it that the meeting starts and ends on time, and that each agenda item is covered before the meeting ends. A good moderator uses the agenda as a guideline and sees to it the meeting doesn't deviate too far from it. The moderator also motivates each participant to make a constructive and positive contribution to the meeting. He or she will also intervene when necessary, to make sure the meeting doesn't lapse into an endless discussion.
3. An action plan
Conclude the meeting with a number of concrete actions to be taken, and make sure everyone is aware of the next steps. Determine the results, issues and decisions discussed at the end of the meeting and write them down in a meeting report. Set clear deadlines and in doing so, avoid that projects are postponed indefinitely. And last but not least, decide on a date for the next meeting, but consider if you really need one. If you use a CRM tool, you can save meeting reports easily to allow other attendees to consult them whenever they need to.
With Teamleader, you're always up to speed on what your co-workers are doing. Since you have the same data at your disposal at any moment, you no longer have to meet on a daily basis to figure out which customer was contacted that day and what was discussed. And more importantly, this information can be retrieved at any moment, at any location. You no longer have to try and find a suitable moment to meet with 10 attendees.