Updated: May 13, 2019
Do you find it difficult to hold effective meetings that translate into results? Have you ever wished that you could telepathically pass on instructions to your team members instead of holding another meeting? Well, you are not alone! According to research, Americans conduct about 11 million meetings each day. Unfortunately, many of these meetings do not produce results, making them a significant waste of time and money.
Many teams have turned to sophisticated tools for time management, file management, communication and checklist tracking. All of these can help a team collaborate more effectively and reduce the number of meetings, but they don’t solve all the problems with unproductive meetings. How then do you conduct meetings that don’t waste time and money or cause participants to mentally check out? We looked at the meeting practices from some of the best tech companies and distilled five big lessons which you can apply to improve your meetings.
Lesson #1: Apple Inc. keeps the number of meeting attendees small, focused and motivated
Apple Inc. was founded by Steve Jobs, a strong believer in the potential of his team. In order to make their meetings meaningful, the number of meeting attendees is kept as low as possible. Only those who have a direct contribution to the meeting are present. There is no room for spectators or seat warmers. Steve was known to ask people to leave if they didn’t have something to contribute to the discussion.
Lesson #2: Samsung encourages free expression and decision-making at meetings
For years, Samsung’s approach was based on a more traditional Korean work culture. In 2016, Samsung decided to adopt a more entrepreneurial way of working. As part of this, they agreed to “promote a meeting culture where only those that are really necessary attend, freely express their thoughts, reach a conclusion and abide by such decisions.” Open sharing, decision-making, and follow-through are critical to productive meetings.
Lesson #3: Microsoft leverages digital tools and cutting-edge technology at meetings
With the wide geographic disbursement of employees at Microsoft, it’s no wonder Bill Gates was a proponent of great meeting technology tools. Embracing technology and the right software will ultimately make your meetings more effective, whether virtual or in person.
Lesson #4: Google creates a culture of trust in its meetings
One way Google has been able to effectively get results from its meetings is by allowing employees to share ideas without risk of criticizing them. They’ve successfully established psychological safety. Sharing your opinion or ideas can feel intimidating and in many organizations, people hold back. But not at Google. When teams meetings are held, team members feel comfortable offering innovative or contradictory ideas knowing they will not be judged unfairly.
Lesson #5: Ultimate Software adopts the use of visuals at meetings
Ultimate Software was struggling to reap the benefits of the agile practices they’d been implementing. The use of visuals and flow charts were introduced to help people better understand and align on the work processes. By making the team’s work visible in the form of boards and tickets, they were able to develop new practices and work more effectively.
We can all benefit from better meetings
Even successful companies have lessons to learn about making meetings effective. The important note is that they are implementing practices we can all benefit from. Which of these lessons are you going to try in your team?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Owen McGab Enaohwo is the CEO and Co-Founder of SweetProcess; an easy-to-use and intuitive business process management software that makes it possible for company executives and their employees to collaborate together to quickly document standard operating procedures, processes, and policies. As CEO, Owen helps SweetProcess's growing customer base of companies and their executives with strategies on how to get consistent performance from their employees, scale and systematize their operations. From 2009 to 2013, he ran a business process outsourcing firm that provided entrepreneurs with outsourced staff from the Philippines.