6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
“Reunionitis” is practically the deadliest pandemic experienced by businesses. It is known that up to 40% of the time is wasted in unproductive encounters, from which nothing is gained.
In these times of remote or hybrid work, the overabundance of baseless meetings, with the excuse of following up on topics, has overloaded the agenda of CEOs, senior management, managers and teams.
In case there were any doubts, having unproductive or unnecessary meetings drains teams. This is reflected in an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review , where they call it the “Meeting Recovery Syndrome”, which is neither more nor less than the time it takes people to recover mentally and emotionally after a bad meeting.
So who can save us?
The answer lies in learning to use the micro-meeting technique, where in 10, 15 or 20 minutes maximum, decisions have been reviewed, discussed and made that previously took 2, 3, 4 hours and even full days.
Of course, on strategic issues that require other types of dynamics, the most extensive calls will continue to coexist. In many companies I work with, this format has become the exception rather than the norm, and very short and effective encounters prevail.
How micro-meetings work
The first thing to consider is whether the issue deserves a meeting, or can be resolved in another way: for example, an audio call, an e-mail or sharing a document to receive the comments of others. It is estimated that approximately 15% to 20% of meetings could be eliminated by implementing alternative forms.
A micro-meeting is a meeting in which only the indispensable people participate; not even the ones that it would be desirable for them to be: but strictly who should attend, and all of them are focused on high effectiveness. That is, there is no room for excuses, late arrivals, cell phones on, or distractions.
Its limited duration allows you to go directly to the focus of the issue. There is no dispersal and no time to beat around the bush.
Where to start? The suggestion is to start with meetings of 15 minutes, which is a more than appropriate time to follow up on at least the 4 or 5 priority topics of the day at a rate of 3 minutes per topic, approximately.
A short greeting and to the point; no coffee anecdotes in between. Special situations, problems with someone on the team, and personal challenges can be addressed outside of this space.
I recommend that there be a person in the role of time-keeper , who will use a stopwatch to accurately control the time and will alert the exhibitor of how much time is left. The last alert will be 30 seconds before. It sounds very demanding, and yes it is! It is about stopping wasting time, which represents a lot of money for companies and wear and tear for people.
Hosting a micro-meeting
A professional micro-meeting organization is essential to get going. The call must be sent at least 48 hours before only to the people directly involved in the issues to be discussed; and clearly explain that the meeting will start and end on time.
In the invitation it will be essential to indicate the agenda to be addressed and the dynamics that will be followed, for example, the order and how much time each person has to present their part. All the topics will be exclusively the priority ones; Superfluous or minor impact aspects, which can be delegated, will not be included. Relevance will be given by importance, not urgency.
Once finished, one of the people present will be responsible for putting the decision into a control board, an internal program or monitoring app or the classic minute that will circulate at most, in the 12 hours following all the rest.
In this follow-up, you can copy people who were not present and that it is essential that they are aware. Please avoid over-copying just in case, since what it does is hinder the flow of post-micro-meeting communication.
How to determine the duration and frequency?
This aspect depends on the culture of the company, and the issues to be addressed. What is sought with micro-meetings is to make the meetings much more effective.
For example, a 10-minute briefing meeting will be enough to set guidelines on priorities and execution of actions during the day. There are even companies that do them standing up. And a 15-minute meeting will be enough to review a supplier proposal and make a decision if it has previously been analyzed and worked very well in the corresponding areas. In other words, for the micro-meetings to work, it is necessary for each person to do the duties that correspond to them in a timely manner, without delay.
Another aspect to consider is the frequency: in the current remote work format, companies are considering the need to avoid having as many video calls as before, since it exhausts people, whose service threshold has dropped significantly. It is known that in front of the screens today they have flows of attention that vary every 2 or 3 minutes, which is a challenge for those who lead the meeting: we must keep everyone attentive and in the proposed dynamics.
In micro-meetings this is easier to achieve, because it increases the willingness and collaboration to adjust to the scheduled time.
And how many micro should be made? The strictly necessary, without exaggeration. Remember: there are topics that do not require a meeting.
As we can see, the issue is not only the duration of the meetings, but that they are used, organized and fully productive.
To achieve this, it is necessary to outline clear policies in companies, training in productivity and time management, and optimization of resources, with time being precisely one of the scarcest non-renewable assets. And that is why it is so precious. So why waste it if there are alternative ways to do effective meetings?