Are Meetings Producing a Loss or a Gain?

By: Shirley
Almost everyday people in organizations have to attend meetings. Has anyone at the organizations looked at those meetings to determine if they are productive? Does anyone in the organization know if the meetings were beneficial enough to be worth the investment? If the answer is NO, then please read on to determine how to verify the worth a meeting has to the organization.

Recognize the Productivity Level.
The value of a meeting to the organization and how productive a meeting is relates directly to how effective it is at accomplishing the meeting’s purpose. If the meeting accomplishes more then 60% of its purpose, then the meeting was beneficial and the cost of the meeting is to be considered a good investment in the success of the organization. Most average meetings accomplish around forty to sixty percent of the meeting’s purpose. In this case the cost of having the meeting may be balanceable by its benefits; however this requires verifying that a benefit from the meeting is visible and verifiable. Finally, if the meeting accomplishes less than 40% of its purpose, the cost of the meeting is generally a loss to the organization.

Compute the Cost of Attendance.
How to figure out if the meeting has value related to its purpose and the investment in good meetings on future projects.

Here is simple formula to use for calculations when weighing the cost of a meeting and against the potential benefits. MC = H x AC where AC = (R x N).
To determine the actual cost of a meeting, find the following data: an approximate average hourly rate for each person attending the meeting (R) and a count of the number of people expected to attend the meeting (N). Then multiply those numbers to compute total attendee cost (AC). Then take the number of hours (H) the meetings may be to multiply by the total attendee costs to compute approximate meeting cost (MC).*

Verify the Productivity Level.
Use or create a meeting management evaluation that will help the group decide where meetings fall on the productivity scale. The evaluation should have some sort of numbering system. Then assign a percentage value to the numbers in order to compare each meeting to the productivity levels. For example on a 5 point scale evaluation, each point would be worth 20% on the productivity scale. Keeping track of productivity levels is the only way to verify that improvement is happening. Sometimes, just knowing the meeting will be evaluated at the end is enough to keep people on target to achieving the meeting purpose.

Conduct Research on Meeting Management Methodologies.
There are many great books and some good training programs related to managing meetings available on the market. Do research on the web or ask people that do led meeting well for their recommendations.

Take Improvement Steps.
As noted earlier, the best way to know meetings are improving is to track the productivity before and after improvement steps have been taken. Improvement steps may be as simple as specialized training for the leader and/or group members. Or it could be a mentoring program where a truly good meeting facilitator is used to demonstrate the required skills in group meetings and then coach future meeting leaders in how to do a better job. Either way, an evolution in responsibility and mindset for the entire group will be necessary because a change in how the meetings are conducted will have to follow.

This information should at least be a starting point for determining what meetings currently have worth to the organization. It will also help with determining which ones could use improvement in order to become more productive and beneficial to the organization.

*NOTE:
Portions of this article were adapted from suggestions in the book "R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard's Approach "copyright Shirley Fine Lee 2007.

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