Love them or hate them, the fact is that despite the ‘virtual world’ dominating our lives, company meetings are still very much a reality. At companies (and in the personal realm too) meetings let people get together to discuss important issues, share information, brainstorm, give and receive feedback and make vital decisions that would affect the company as a whole. Company meetings, by these premises then, should be well liked but that is not so. Most people loathe these company meetings and often find ways and means to wiggle out of them. It is possible that company meetings now seem to getting tediously long, happen too often and many times do not conclude with the results that were expected. Busy employees and senior executives are pulled away from their day to day tasks to attend such meetings and it leads to extreme fatigue and frustration when these meetings are not fruitful. In addition, their daily tasks pile up to complete which they must spend longer hours at the office. It is no surprise then that company meetings are seem as time wasters and non-value adding tasks.
Irrespective of how people in a company feel about meetings, they are an inseparable part of organizations and it is best that the time spent in company meetings is used productively and effectively. Does your company have too many meetings and are you looking at ways to reduce the number and ensure that the meetings you do have, are effective?
With crazy deadlines, frenetic schedules, travel, multiple locations and flexi work arrangements becoming common place, it has become increasingly tough to get people of the same team to interact with each other face to face. We have previously discussed the importance of team meetings and the need for team cohesiveness – with distances increasing and time decreasing this connectedness could be in jeopardy since member of teams do not get time with each other. It should be the responsibility of the company to ensure that teams meet – even if it is twice a week for short durations. The feeling of being part of a group that thinks the same way and ‘speaks the same language’ is a morale and energy booster. Such company meetings actually serve to bring people within the organization closer and work together with cooperation.
Regular company meetings that are well-planned, have a fixed agent and adhere to timelines can be extremely effective in helping the employees to understand the issues and challenges faced by their co-workers and share their own experiences with them. A proper understanding of the everyday situations of each other helps the staff members to appreciate each other better and be more willing to cooperate and collaborate. Through these company meetings they get first-hand information on vital subjects and are able to benefit from the exchange of ideas. Larger scale company meetings bring together more teams, different levels of people and other stakeholders of the company making it simpler to align each one to the goals, vision and priorities of the company. Most employees believe that the company does not share enough information with them – company meetings are the ideal opportunity for the ‘big guys’ in the company to share more, listen more and strengthen the bonds of the company through more such face to face interactions.
There could be some who would argue that despite the importance of company meetings, globalization and multi-locations of offices would make it practically impossible to bring all the employees together. This is where technology helps. A number of companies have invested in technology that allows webinars, video conferences and calls and other forms of ‘virtual meetings’. Employees of a company can be ‘part’ of the company meetings through these mediums from any part of the world, thereby raising the interactive nature and efficacy of company meetings. Is your company part of this technological revolution?
When implemented and conducted properly, company meetings prove to be one of the most effective methods of communication. We all know the criticality of communicating irrespective of the circumstances. Effective communication through company meetings can allay doubts, put rumours and gossip to rest, raise the morale and provide opportunities for all levels of employees to be part of discussions and ‘meet’ their counter parts and share their ‘stories’ of their day to day life in the company.
Again, despite some of these obvious advantages, every company would have a few detractors who would try to not let meetings happen or who refuse to actively participate in the company meetings because they believe that meetings cannot be effective and that their time is being wasted. When such behaviour is noticed, it becomes the responsibility of their managers or other senior members of the company to interact with them individually and understand their perspective. Without such coaching and mentoring, these particular individuals could prove disruptive and also try to influence others. It is best that they be given proper guidance about the use of company meetings. Coercing team members or trying to ‘induce’ cooperation by holding team or company meetings will not work. Instead, employees must first be motivated and their morale boosted before they can feel part of any company endeavour and also become effective contributors in company meetings.
For company meetings to be effective, companies must focus on how well or not, their employees ‘behave’ when informed about company meetings. Their demeanour during the meetings and their general enthusiasm post the meetings. When people are happy with what they do, their manager and with the company at large, their body language, participation levels and overall behaviour will reflect enthusiasm and willing contribution. They would be genuinely engaged and happy to be part of company meetings in order to make suggestions, listen to the views of others and gain insights from the sharing done by the senior management. As these company meetings become more effective, the morale and self-confidence of the employees is raised – they would be motivated to help the company succeed by better work performance, innovative ideas and enhanced levels of customer service.
Company meetings would be boring and dull if they were ‘talk downs’. Company meetings would soon become a drag and people would try ‘every excuse in the book’ to avoid attending them, if employees were only required to listen and given no opportunity to contribute. As mentioned, using technology is a great way to ensure that every employee, irrespective of location, is able to ‘participate’ in company meetings and this would help to keep the company strong.
Company meetings must not be the time only for the senior people to talk and express their views. These meetings must remain interactive and allow for the employees to put forth their views, problems they face day to day and also speak about their smallest achievements and accomplishments – which otherwise could go unnoticed.
To ensure that company meetings are effective, there must be a core team responsible for handling such meetings. Every detail – speakers, agenda, timelines and other such aspects – must be sorted out and adhered to. All speakers and participants must be asked to focus on their topic and keep disruptions and distractions to the minimum. Questions must be entertained only post the end of a session – with a fixed time being set for this segment too.
Company meetings may not always have the kind of result that all people expect and there could be times where they are not as effective as they should be, but on the whole each person in attendance must do their part to make each meeting effective. A company could switch to shorter and more focused meetings and larger company meetings could be held less often but will have more potency and effectiveness.