Economist and workplace commentator Stephanie Hare has published ideas on why British productivity is so low – meetings. According to Ms Hare, conference calls and video conferencing are the worst offenders. Technical issues take up the first few minutes. Everyone gets settled and in blusters the obligatory latecomer and the whole thing starts over again.
Hare’s theory is that meetings often involve people who do not need to be there. Observers should be working somewhere else. She also says meetings are not organised enough. They often lack an agenda to keep things on track. They end without action points, so no one knows who is doing what.
Hare quotes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who keeps meetings small, bans PowerPoint and avoids meetings before 10am because he is not productive before then. The first portions of his meetings are spent reading the relevant papers, as he knows workers will not have done it. Hare also advises businesses to encourage reluctant speakers, and ensure women are first up in Q&A sessions. Research shows that more women will speak up if the first question or comment is offered by a woman.
Hare’s final tip is to seek honest feedback on meetings from attendees. If feedback is poor, cut numbers, tighten up agendas and ensure everyone is heard.
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