In Pursuit of Profit
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Does your company have the monotonous “Monday morning meeting?” that employees dread all weekend because it never results in anything productive?
Even if it doesn’t, chances are there are still some meetings that leave employees asking themselves, “Why did I even bother preparing for that?” or “Why did I have to be there?” or “Couldn’t that have been an email?”
This is a problem because disorganized, distracted, and downright pointless meetings are more than just an annoyance. According to the Harvard Business Review, wasteful meetings result in:
They cite shocking statistics such as 65% of managers reporting that meetings keep them from completing their work, 71% saying they view meetings as generally unproductive, and 62% declaring that meetings miss the mark of bringing their teams closer together. This is, no doubt, a bleak outlook for organizations with meeting-heavy company cultures.
So, how do you break the cycle of bad meetings?
The answer is in preparing for and executing meetings that provide value for everyone involved by improving the quality of work being done and making that work easier to do.
Use this guide to improve team meetings at your company:
When putting together the attendee list, ask yourself if each person’s time would be better spent on other activities instead of attending the meeting. Consider workload, general availability, and other meeting commitments to exclude anyone who does not truly need to be there.
Only invite the people that are essential to the meeting. Then fill the wider group in after the meeting with an email instead of tying up their time. This is an especially salient point for management and c-suite leadership, as their time is especially valuable.
Prepare a formal agenda instead of just winging it to help everyone stay on topic. Ask for input on the agenda while preparing it to ensure everyone gets their fair share of time and critical items are discussed.
During the meeting, manage your time wisely, and do not be afraid to curtail conversation around adjacent topics. Run the meeting – do not let the meeting run you. Remember, other topics can be tabled and discussed at a future meeting. Additionally, as you go through the meeting, give attendees updates on your progress to keep everyone on track and improve morale.
Budgeting & Finances
When working with your accounting team on creating a budget or to discuss financial matters, ensure you have the right personnel involved. Include someone from your accounting and/or finance department to give the perspective of a subject matter expert in case questions arise. Ensure the financials they provide are up to date and any assumptions used are clearly explained to offer additional perspective from the people with the greatest financial acumen.
Send relevant financial data to attendees ahead of time to give them opportunity to peruse them so the meeting can be informational and strategic in nature, not just everyone staring at a set of numbers trying to get their bearings. This is especially important when dealing with team members that are less financially savvy.
When budgeting strategy needs to be altered to overcome problems that have arisen, it will need executive buy-in from the people who control spending. Typically, this is the Owner/CEO and/or the Controller/CFO/Finance VP/Senior accounting manager but it may also require middle management’s sign off on new initiatives as well. Communicate clearly with personnel whether it is in the meeting or via email afterwards to get their input.
Set the Right Atmosphere
Provide the right supplies and supplemental items to facilitate the kind of meeting you want to have. For instance, a creative brainstorming meeting would likely benefit from snacks, notepads for doodling, and fidget aids to get people’s imaginative juices flowing and encourage causal conversation. However, a budget meeting would likely benefit from informational packets to keep attendees on the same page and coffee to keep everyone focused.
Remember, stuff is not the only way to create the right environment. The time of day can make all the difference also. Knowing when your team does their best work will help you to determine if your meeting should be at the start of the workday, just before or after lunch, mid-afternoon, or some other time of the day. Match the atmosphere of the meeting to the purpose of the meeting.
Since you are excluding some people from the invite list, you will need to take good meeting notes to fill them in on the details of the meeting. The last thing you want is team members feeling like they were left out of an important conversation. Thorough notetaking ensures that people who were not invited or could not attend are kept informed. The result is greater transparency, which builds trust and collaboration.
Good notetaking also improves future meetings by reminding team members what was discussed, challenged, and agreed on in the previous meeting. It also creates accountability when team members are assigned action items for the next meeting, which makes comprehensive notetaking valuable for the meeting attendees as well.
Find out more about how your accounting team can foster a positive company culture through effective meetings and other strategies to improve productivity and increase profitability.