This piece originally appeared on MillennialMagazine.com.
Business meetings are a necessary evil in life. However, productive meetings can be a great avenue to gain new ideas and resolve problems. Other times, they can be the most unproductive part of the day. In one study, a company spent about 300,000 hours on weekly executive meetings in one year (but on whether or not they profited from it remains to be seen).
Even with the advent of conference calls, it seems feelings about meetings haven’t changed much. According to one survey, 47 percent of employees view meetings as a waste of time. The participants even described their experiences as boring, pointless, and unproductive.
But if we want to really dig up problems, generate meaningful solutions, and practice leadership, then meetings are a MUST.
Don’t worry though. As millennials make up a large portion of the workforce today, you can count on them to put a positive spin on traditional setups. Watch this generation of aspiring leaders develop strategies for productive meetings once again.
Why Most Meetings Are Unproductive
For many employees, meetings feel like a repetitive process with no sense of direction. But maybe that’s because for the most part, they are.
According to Connie Williams of global innovation consulting firm, Synecticsworld, meetings become unproductivewhen there’s inaccurate communication AND no agenda. A brainstorming session on the other hand, can turn into a staring contest if no one takes a lead on building good ideas. It’s also easy to get carried away on off-topic conversations. These, along with no one accountable for keeping time, can transform a fruitful session into a meeting from hell.
That’s why Master Certified Coach, Alan M. Dobzinski, MCC, suggests setting ground rules from the onset. This should be unique to every organization. Ground rules could be something as simple as NO interruptions if someone is speaking, to something a bit bizarre, like requiring speakers NOT to rehash past ideas. By having ground rules that all parties agree on, you know what to expect and everyone involved becomes accountable.
Millennials Insist On Productive Meetings
If there’s a generation that completely understands the value of time, it’s millennials.
Millennials know a person’s time on earth is limited – that’s why they intend on creating the best memories possible. From managing their own companies, juggling careers and relationships, to getting involved in causes, you’d think they have 25 hours in a day instead of the usual 24. This is what makes them perfect for leading business meetings.
In fact, there are already a good number of millennial leaders who are making meetings productive again. Here’s how they’re doing it and how YOU too, can make meeting magic happen in your own organization:
1 Looking Into the Future: Keith Scandone, Partner and CEO, O3 World
Millennial leaders naturally gravitate towards the future. Some can’t wait for it to happen – others MAKE it happen. At O3 World, they mix innovation with efficiency. With help from Roombot, an app that connects with meeting participants’ Google Calendars, workers can be alerted when it’s time to wrap things up. Partner and CEO Keith Scandone says it’s been effective at keeping everyone on time, but still getting things done.
Can’t afford your own Roombot? Have someone at the meeting keep time OR use apps like My Minutes to make sure you don’t go over the time allotted for the task.
2 Transparency in Action: Josh Neblett, Co-founder and CEO, Etailz
Transparency helps uncover hidden issues, build trust among members, and retain your most valuable asset in the company: your people. But showing transparency is often difficult. For one, it’s not easy for employees to speak up, particularly if higher management is present. Second, some folks like to agree on ideas – only to be uncooperative later on. This makes meetings and actual executions unproductive if not resolved.
But Josh Neblett of Etailz gets to the bottom of the problem by turning the last 10 minutes of every meeting into a Q&A portion. If no one speaks up, it becomes a staring contest. According to Neblette:
“… If no one has questions initially, I’ll just look around and stare at people awkwardly until the first couple of questions come out. The questions always end up being useful and universally applicable, but sometimes it takes a couple minutes for the dam to break.”
By ensuring that there’s transparency in every meeting, SOMETHING actually gets done and any problems are given solutions.
3 Valuing Connections: Daniel Entrenas, Indie Labs Manager, Genera
Millennial leaders value human connections. Despite how technology surrounds us 24/7, having that bit of time to look at people’s eyes can make a huge difference in building long-term trust. Ensuring that there is human connection in meetings makes it personal, memorable, and rewarding.
Daniel Entrenas, Indie Labs Manager at Genera, is fond of their meetings, which are held at basketball courts. As a mobile game publisher, you might be surprised at the lack of tech. But through traditional, fun activities, Entrenas says they are able to think clearer, thus, giving them the ability to contribute better ideas to the group.
If you want to follow suit but don’t have a court, try other alternatives such as: meetings around board games, group yoga in your office garden, or brainstorming during lunch. After all, food ALWAYS brings people together.
Times are changing fast – and millennials are all over it.
Whether it’s trying something new or turning bizarre thoughts into actions, this generation is ready to break barriers and challenge norms. So it’s not surprising that they’re making headlines with their productive meetings strategies.