Deadlines loom, phones ring, e-mail goes unanswered and what are you doing with your time? Going to meetings! Oh, what fun, you think, coffee mug in hand, ready to watch the second hand move ever so slowly across the face of the clock like a kid waiting for the bell to ring on the last day of school.
The fact is, you spend way too much time in meetings, and they drain away a tremendous chunk of your life. Respondents to a Microsoft survey a couple years back said they spent 5.6 hours each week in meetings, and 71 percent of them thought the meetings weren’t productive.
If you truly want to know how much time – and money – trickles away while you try to stay awake at a conference table, check out http://tobytripp.github.com/meeting-ticker/. Plug in the number of attendees, an hourly rate that includes salaries and facility rental, and calculate the financial waste, second by second.
Though we hate to admit it, meetings are sometimes necessary and can be productive.
The trick, then, is keeping them on track. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:
1. Set a time limit. Everybody has something else to do, and having a confab drag on is usually not on that list. Start on time, finish on time, and if you don’t get it all done, follow-up e-mails or calls may accomplish the task.
2. Know why you’re there. Distribute an agenda or outline in advance. Be open to adding items to the agenda offered up by those attending the meeting, if they are pertinent to the task at hand.
3. Come prepared. This goes for those leading the meeting, and those attending it. Review the documents, bring the proposal, whatever it takes. No one wants to stare at you while you rifle through your briefcase, looking for what you need.
4. Speak up. Make a suggestion or offer to do some research before asking for bid proposals. The meeting will be less of a drag – and go faster – if you feel engaged.
Meetings aren’t fun, and they take up a lot of our time, but they will always be with us, so you might as well do what you can to make them short, sweet and bearable.
My employees are hard at work
Ah, the hum of creativity. Employees hunched over keyboards, phones cradled to their ears, the tap-tap of keyboards and mouse clicks. As a supervisor, you have never seen such a productive bunch!
Except, it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving. Closer inspection reveals those computer screens are awash in online retail catalogues, and those phone calls are with customer service reps who actually are busy at work, taking orders for cashmere sweaters and the latest Elmo doll.
Welcome to Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. The sluggish post-feast feeling has long worn off, the mall holds no appeal whatsoever, and online retail sales are going through the roof – mostly while folks are at work.
A CareerBuilder.com survey last year revealed that 43 percent of the people who planned to shop online would spend more than an hour doing so while at work. The busiest time for online shopping is noon to 4 p.m., according to Richard Feinberg, a researcher with the Purdue Retail Institute. That’s right smack dab in the middle of the workday.
Obviously, there are all sorts of distractions during the holidays, and it’s not just online shopping. And, the Internet offers boundless opportunities for abuse during work all year long, from personal e-mails to social networking sites. The CareerBuilder.com survey notes 61 percent of workers use the Internet for non-work related research and activities while they are at work. This comes at a time when many businesses have smaller staffs, and supervisors want to see their employees spend their workdays actually working.
The key to keeping everyone on track, all year long? Communicating about expectations and setting limits.
Acknowledge employees don’t have their noses to the grindstone all day, every day, and plan around it. Maybe let them shop online during lunch hour, or for brief periods before and after the actual workday – and off the clock.
And, set a good example. No one respects a supervisor who tells them not to shop from work during the holidays, while perusing the Internet for the perfect gift for Great Aunt Mildred.
How do you measure the cost of wasted time or resources?
Information on Free HR Webinars
Success Trek partner, Preventive HR, offers a free Webinar. The title for November is "Recruit and Retain the Very Best Employees."
To receive notification of the date and registration, go to www.hrsentry.com and provide your email address. You will also be notified of future free webinars. These webinars are provided by HRSentry which Preventive HR offers through an alliance.
Preventive HR is dedicated to providing its clients with tools and resources to help them efficiently and effectively manage their organizations. Preventive HR has teamed with HR Made Simple to create a free webinar series that will address various Human Resource topics.