One of the challenges that many WFH employees are facing is excessive collaboration. This, of course, comes as a result of teams and companies being thrust into a new virtual world. The knee-jerk reaction in many organizations has been to ensure everyone is working together…as much as possible! While it comes from a well-intended place, it does not always land as such.
Here’s what really happens:
- Even pre-Covid, most knowledge workers and leaders were already spending 85% or more of their time on email, in meetings, and on the phone
- Up to a third of the value created through collaborative work comes from only 3% to 5% of employees
- Simple distractions like checking a text message or answering an email can cost us more than 20 minutes to fully regain our focus
- Employees become burned out, productivity begins to lag, and voluntary turnover increases
There are plenty of broad ways to address excessive collaboration (ex. workload analytics tools), but that isn’t the aim of this article. A simple way to begin reducing excessive collaboration is to take a closer look at the biggest offender: unnecessary meetings.
Use the four questions below to take a fresh look at your current meeting cadence – and discover where improvements can be made. Employees need time to think and complete focused work, and, its a leader’s responsibility to create that environment.
1. Ask why. Why are the meetings being held in the first place – is it truly useful? Perhaps a carry over from a previous leader? Or an organizational artifact that’s now outdated?
2. Ask what. What meetings need to be attended to support goal attainment? Decline any meetings that don’t move your team’s progress forward. If you can’t decline entirely, what section(s) of the meeting must you attend? Show up for those only.
3. Ask who. Who really needs to be there? If a meeting is indeed essential, assess who actually needs to be there. Meetings can be notoriously bloated.
4. Provide role clarity. This ties into point number three. Leaders who are explicitly clear on the roles and responsibilities of their employees have less risk of the team’s time being wasted (ex. multiple team members attending same meeting; meetings that don’t align with team goals, etc.).
Choose one of these questions this week and apply it to your current meeting cadence. Small changes can provide substantial impact.