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Staff meetings may not be cost-effective in leading your company

The cost-effectiveness of holding staff meetings tends to be overlooked by many companies largely because it is relegated to a marginal part of the duties of the stakeholders. As a result it is unaccounted for in most companies’ budgets. Yet holding staff meetings, on a regular basis, can greatly impact your company’s operating cost. It is not uncommon for an organization to spend up to 20 percent of their personnel budget on meetings. Take for instance a company with budget of $500,000 for payroll and other benefits, if the company spends 15% of their time in meetings (presidents, vice-presidents, line managers, directors, and other staff) that means that approximately $50,000 a year is spent on just people sitting in meetings, not including the additional cost for preparing for those meetings.

The cost is even compounded in unproductive meetings where participants come to the meetings unprepared and others are wrongfully invited with no direct meeting topic effect on their departments. Despite the impact of staff meetings on company’s revenue, very few companies have evaluated the meeting approaches that are more effective for their organization. Others do not even consider this cost in their budget. I am not advocating that you should totally eliminate all staff meetings rather what I am saying is that you should arbitrate if the time spent in ongoing regularly scheduled staff meetings could be better spent elsewhere in leading your company towards attaining its goals. Remember that not all meetings are essential and that time spent in meetings takes away time from other operations of your company.

Effective staff meetings are essential for organization’s health, but long and unproductive staff meetings (meetings that only rehearsal past discussions with no new solutions) can affect your company’s economic health because it can increase your operating cost. Take for example, the case of schools, the salary of a school principal with four assistant principals holding an ongoing administrative meetings on daily basis, if the meeting lasts two hours each day, not only cost the taxpayers’ money associated with their salaries, but it also includes added cost associated with loss of time to implement any minimal positive outcome of their meetings. As a former educator in a public school, I have seen this first hand school administrators holding daily meetings. Likewise in for profit corporations, where line managers, CEOs, directors, department heads hold constant meetings there is less time for reflection and implementation of planned objectives.

In a climate where companies must hold staff meetings to disseminate information to staff and at times seek to solve its problems, it is reasonable to examine the cost-effectiveness of ongoing scheduled staff meetings. Here is five ways to mitigate the cost of meetings and increase your bottom line:

3-Ways to Make Your Meetings More Cost-effective

Seek Other Alternatives

It is unnecessary that you conduct face to face meetings with staff on a regular basis to address issues or communicate information unless you are mandated by your organization’s bylaws have to adhere to a certain formal procedure such as the parliamentary procedure. For example government agencies, such as school boards, judiciary committees, city council, county supervisors, university trustee boards, and certain for-profit corporate boards require some versions of the Robert’s Rules of Order. If you are not mandated to hold a face-to-face meetings, you can benefit from alternative virtual approach such as go to meeting.com, e-mail, and memorandums.

Time Your Meetings

I am amazed to see the number of decision makers such as business executives, union leaders, community organizers, supervisors, educators, that deviate from the time allotted for conducting their meetings. Not adhering to the time allotted for conducting your meetings, can affect your bottom line because your cost increases with time spent on items not listed on your agenda. Time costs money. Likewise when you expedite items on your agenda, you save money and decrease your expense. I propose that you select a timekeeper, from your meeting participants, to monitor the time spent on agenda items, stick to the time, and move on to the next items on the agenda. The key is time management that produces more results in a less time.

Participation that mitigates meeting cost

You can reduce meeting cost and save time by asking staff to submit their concerns, questions, and other item topics of interest to them before the meeting. The good thing about this is method is that staff feel empowered in the decision making process. Remember to inform staff, in your request for item topic that only submitted item proposals will be considered for discussion during the meeting. One of the things that drive meeting cost is that people tend to deviate from the meeting agenda. Staying focus on agenda items with the help of a timekeeper will greatly mitigate unnecessary meeting costs.

Create an uncomfortable physical meeting setting

Everyone would like to sit in a plush chair during staff meetings, but there is a downside to it. The downside is that when you place people in a comfortable meeting environment, you take away the incentive for some staff to return to their duties or department in a reasonable time because it is most likely more fun sitting in a meeting than hastily returning to their duties. Here is how you can create an uncomfortable physical meeting environment and still achieve meeting success with less time costs: Have every participant, including yourself, stand in a circle, pass out the meeting agenda, establish time limit for every agenda item, then ask one participant to volunteer as timekeeper to ensure that there is enough time to cover all items on the agenda. You can act as a facilitator by not dominating the meeting because once the other participants sense that you are dominating the meeting as their supervisor, manager, or CEO, they will withhold ideas, or valuable suggestions from you. Remember that participants, staff, workers tend to commit to organizational objectives and idea implementation if they feel that they are contributing to the decision making process in your company or organization.

 

Series one of articles on Meetings – This is the first of a series of articles that I plan to write on meetings in the coming months. This article is about the cost of holding meetings.

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About John Alizor

John O. Alizor, Ph.D., currently runs workshops and seminars on leadership as the founder and president of John Alizor, Ph.D., Leadership Forensics Business Consulting, Inc. He has an extensive background in education administration and business leadership roles including making his first million dollars as the head of a manufacturing company. He is sharing his leadership…