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You Cannot Afford Another Meeting!

The work we do, as Emergency Managers is extremely important. Like many of you, I'm always looking for ways to be a little more efficient and make better use of my time. When I find a strategy that helps, It requires a closer look. What if I were to tell you that your organization is probably holding entirely too many meetings, and you cannot afford it. Some of you would disagree, but I'm sure many of you agree wholeheartedly. Businesses and organizations hold entirely too many meetings, and The emergency management field is one of the worst offenders. Don't get too far ahead of me. I'm not saying that there is never a need for meetings, I'm just saying, if we are constantly hunting for time and looking for increased efficiency we might want to think about where we spend the most time. Research into meetings has provided us some very troubling data.[1]

  • 25 million meetings per day are held in the United States

  • Middle Management spends 35% of their workweek in meetings

  • Upper Management spends 50% of their workweek in meetings

While time lost is a major issue and a real problem, another issue, just as serious, is dollars lost.

  • Each year we spend approximately $37 billion on unproductive meetings.

  • Figure up what you pay your staff and recognize that it’s possible for every hour in a meeting, is an hour worth of salary lost.

  • If you have a staff member making $50 per hour and they spend 35% of their time in meetings, $33,600 lost in meetings.

There is no easy answer to these problems. We cannot just stop having meetings. We may need to get together as a group to get things done or receive some piece of information. The good news is, there are strategies that can be put into place that may help.

  • Those who are calling for meetings need to ask themselves, “Does this require an in-person meeting” or can it be handled through an email?

  • Organize your meetings. Spend a couple minutes at the beginning to lay out objectives and expectations. Setting some ground rules helps.

  • Keep the meetings short. Meetings that go too long tend to lose the attention of attendees.

  • Start and end on time. If it is a 30-minute meeting, keep it to 30 minutes.

Despite the increase in technology, the complaints of workers, or me spouting off about meetings, they aren't going anywhere. We are going to continue to sit down as groups and discuss things. This does not mean that we cannot get creative about what these might look like or make sure that they are delivered in the most efficient way possible. We owe it to our clients and our staff.


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