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How Many Hours Do Your Staff Spend in Unproductive Meetings?



When you start out to make a difference based on what you see and hear, you need to keep an open mind, listen to feedback and have some evidence that there is a problem.


During last Thursday’s conversation about Leading Meetings that Make a Difference with several astute principals, I was sad and glad at the same time. Sad that the problem exists and glad that a solution is pending.


The problem – most meetings are unproductive and disengaging.

The solution – lead meetings that make a difference – engage people and produce outcomes.


Technology company Atlassian researched 5000 employees across 4 continents and found 72% of meetings are unproductive. Meaning 28% of meetings are productive.


For those who love the math’s, be prepared for an enlightening statistic. During the session, I asked each principal to tally up the number of hours the staff spend in meetings annually. If you like, grab a pencil and paper and play along.


I used the following example from a school I work with:

Professional Development      30 hours (5 days at 6 hours)

Staff meetings                         20 hours (5 hours per term)

Team meetings                       20 hours (5 hours per term)

Total hours                              70 hours

Productive hours X 28%         19.6 hours      Over 50 hours of wasted time. 


Translated into 6-hour days

Total meetings            11.6 days

Productive meetings   3.2 days.                     Over 8.4 days of wasted time. 


Even if you thought your meetings were bucking the trend and doubled the productive % to 56% it would be 38.2 hours or 6.5 days, it is still an unhealthy amount of time wasted by overworked and overwhelmed professionals for no outcome. 


The sad part of the math was that the principals agreed there was most probably meeting time wasted not only at their school, but meetings they attended. 


And if you are unsure or disagree that your staff are attending disengaging and unproductive meetings, then do a litmus test of your team meetings using the following method:


A) Ask your leaders whether they feel their meetings engage people and produce outcomes.

B) Attend a meeting and answer these three questions:

  1. Is the meeting running efficiently? Adheres to time frames. All items on topic.

  2. Is the meeting effective? All participants walk away with clear actions.

  3. Is the meeting engaging? All participants contributed their voice when required.


Any meeting should make a positive difference to how people feel and effect positive change.


There is a problem, and your staff need a solution. 


Are you going to make meetings 100% engaging and productive?


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