“Hey everyone, I’d like to meet to discuss how we felt about our last meeting, when we met to discuss the meeting before that one.”
A seemingly pointless meeting without any clear direction. Sound familiar?
I don’t know about you, but we are done with meetings. Ok maybe not completely done, but we are re-evaluating our relationship.
You see, we recently realized we were spending too much time in meetings, and less time actually completing meaningful work. As our calendars became increasingly full, we started to ask ourselves, “Does this meeting really need to happen?”
Sure, yes, sometimes it was crucial for us to meet, but when we began to question the purpose of many meetings we discovered that there was another communication medium that addressed many of the reasons we wanted to meet in the first place: our intranet.
Using our intranet may have seemed like an obvious choice but even we can fall into some bad habits. But before we get into which meetings we turned to our intranet for, let’s examine the challenges with meetings.
Are meetings really that bad?
Meetings can be great for many reasons. For example, if you require a collaborative decision in real time. Meetings can also be useful for facilitating connection—particularly for new employees. And of course, meetings are almost always useful when you are stuck in a lengthy email thread that doesn’t seem to be moving forward or accomplishing anything.
The challenge is that we often forget that meetings come with a real cost. Most meeting participants are earning a salary, and all those salaries in meetings can quickly add up.
Also, keeping colleagues in wasteful meetings can take them away from the opportunity to focus on deep and meaningful work. We talk more about this in our blog post on asynchronous collaboration.
Finally, meetings can (as we have experienced first hand) create negative feelings and frustration. “Jeez Paul, do you really need me in that meeting?”
In other words, use a meeting when it makes sense to—not just because you have always done it that way. If you don’t have clear objectives, outcomes, or even an agenda, you are just wasting time.
Ok, now that we have convinced you to cut back on unnecessary meetings, let’s look at how your intranet can play a role.
Obtaining document feedback
If you are using a meeting to invite a dozen colleagues to provide feedback on a document, you are definitely wasting their time. A more productive way to accomplish this is to upload a Google Doc to a designated page on your intranet, provide some context, and request feedback from there. This asynchronous way of communicating not only allows for editing within the document, but facilitates further discussion and collaboration via the comments section.
The benefit is that employees have the opportunity to review and edit on their own schedule. This format might also give them confidence to share opinions or feedback that might not feel comfortable sharing in a meeting, which is great for introverts!
Lastly, this format helps avoid groupthink, the tendency to think as a group to obtain consensus.
Like many of you, we have had a lot of updates to share in the last two years—especially as it related to returning to the workplace. We initially ran these updates as town hall meetings, which are a fantastic way to keep employees informed. However, as time went on, we realized that we didn’t have much new information to share, and the majority of news was better served on our intranet.
Because we had recently launched a new feature called Required Reading, we were also able to guarantee when employees had read and reviewed critical information. And that was much more valuable than a meeting!
Important information can change rapidly. And while we are not suggesting that a meeting might not be a useful way to disseminate this information, it might not be the most effective way.
In addition to our Required Reading feature, we also have a way to broadcast crucial announcements to employees’ phones. Most of our employees are either office based or remote, so it’s not too challenging for us to reach people; however if your employees are frontline workers or deskless, having this extra way to reach them is worth it.
To ensure we stayed on track on a recent project we set up recurring meetings. This was great to keep us on track, however we didn’t always have updates to share.
We began realizing that some of these meetings were unnecessary, which inevitably caused attendance attrition. To fix this problem we decided to change the majority of the meetings to status updates posted to our intranet.
The result? A stronger and more aligned project outcome and less time wasted in meetings.
If you are unsure if the cadence and/or frequency of your meetings could be improved, consider asking your employees how they truly feel about the amount of time they spend in meetings. By sending out a brief internal survey you can easily gather a lot of feedback and insight into how employees truly feel about meetings.
Next time you open your calendar to schedule a meeting, ask yourself if you really need one. And ask yourself if the information could be better shared in another format, like your intranet.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.