Talking about work and doing work are two very different things. Meetings could be hurting more than helping.
If I were to count up all of the hours I've spent in meetings, it would span more years than I have fingers and toes. In other words, a lot. And they're important. It's where decisions are made, strategies are created, and teams are built.
However, it's also where time can be wasted. Especially yours. As a leader, it's important you immerse yourself in the roles and happenings of everyone on the office floor, not just those in the conference room. Without a continuous pulse on the day-to-day, you can't lead effectively.
When you're always tied up in group calls and sales meetings, then your culture is likely taking a hit. Spending more time in the board room means you have less time to actually do work and engage with your team. The same can be said for your employees.
Talking about work and doing work are two very different things, and only one of them is going to get you results. Let's be serious; you can't eradicate meetings, or at least not in the near future. But you can change the way you approach them, and in turn, how much time you're spending in them.
Here are five strategies to cut down on meetings in order to become a more effective, engaged leader.
1. Stand Up
Sitting down in a big cushy chair with a full cup of freshly brewed coffee invites people to make themselves comfortable. So instead of scheduling that next meeting in your conference room, switch it up by standing up.
Standing can keep participants more alert and focused on what really needs to be discussed. Try keeping them on their toes and see how it changes the dynamic.
2. Set a Timer
How many times have you been in a meeting to discuss sales targets, then find yourself on a tangent about marketing? It's easy to get side tracked and digress.
Before you start on a subject, set a timer. I like to do 15 minutes increments. If you find you're on a good path and your time's up, renew it for 15. If not, move on to the next.
One of the greatest obstacles for leaders is feeling like they have to be involved in everything. The bigger your company is, the more impossible it becomes to have your hands in sales, marketing, human resources, public relations, design, and so on.
Here's an easy fix to keep your sanity while still being an effective leader: send someone else. Whether it's your executive assistant or a manager from another department, trust your staff to step-in and summarize the important parts back to you.
4. Schedule More Meetings
So this may sound completely counterproductive, but another tactic that's worth trying is to schedule shorter meetings, but more frequently. If your monthly shareholder meeting can last hours, split them up in to bi-monthly appointments.
5. Just Say No
Stop attending meetings where you're not needed. If someone asks you to sit in on a meeting or join them for a conference call, just say no. When your staff stop relying on your final say, they'll be empowered to make their own decisions.