Understand the benefits
When you eliminate meetings altogether you create space for creativity, grant employees the freedom to manage their own schedules, and enable people to focus their communications in a written format that is clear, concise and shareable. If you’re hiring the right people, providing them with the autonomy to accomplish goals allows them to grow professionally, and allows managers the capacity to step back, assess, and improve the big picture without being bogged down in the minutiae.
You can’t implement a no-meetings policy without the right company mindset.
First and foremost is transparency. Meetings and emails often exclude those not directly involved. Frequently those on the outside will need access to the information discussed at one time or another. Instead of having to set meetings to catch up on emails that people weren’t looped into—a “meeting about the meeting”—you can just share the information that’s already been noted.
With this level of detail fully available to those in the company who might need it, they can find and use the relevant parts as they see fit, on their own schedule. If useful information is both available and well-organized, the entire company benefits.
Put the right tools are in place
Project management tools are priceless in keeping teams organized. They align all tasks in one location and give the project leader the venue to make specific assignments, and explain the objectives and details needed to move forward.
Once teammates understand and grow accustomed to using project management tools as their primary work system, communications and productivity will improve. Meetings will then become obsolete since the organization of work is clear.
These applications rely on the concept of asynchronous communication. That simply means you don’t have the expectation that a colleague will need to be present when you send the communication. Instead, you set a reasonable deadline so that they have the time to give the task its proper attention and provide the best possible solution.
As part of the transition to asynchronous working, it is important for companies to ensure they are using the correct toolsets to keep the process as smooth as possible. You can use project management software such as Monday.com or Asana (for day-to-day projects and task management), a wiki-style directory such as Confluence or Google drive (for storing documentation and knowledge) and direct messaging such as like Slack or MS Team (for everyday communications use rather than emails).
Set the rules
But what about implementation? It may be easiest to think of it as a funnel. First, establish some specific rules that make scheduling meetings more onerous on organizers. Require specific and detailed agendas as well as clear meeting outcomes. Meetings notes must be detailed and available amongst the wider company. This first step will naturally cut down on meetings significantly. After this is in place, the funnel continues to shrink when you eliminate meetings with the sole purpose of relaying information. Have your team use one of your various communication tools to share that type of information. It will save all parties a great deal of time.
The next step could be to eliminate large meetings of more than three people.
Finally, establish a strict rule that eliminates meetings with very rare exceptions. As the process moves forward, employees will see the efficiencies of their lessening meeting workload until they no longer even remember their purpose.
So, as your team gets ready to take some extra time off for the holidays, don’t start booking those catch-up meetings quite yet. Instead, start educating staffers on the merits of transparency, asynchronous communications and a no-meetings policy.
At TheSoul Publishing, cutting out meetings has created a better working culture by having team members focus on what they are good at rather than discussing things in meetings. With the right tools in place and open-minded leadership, eliminating meetings can help any company can boost overall efficiency and job satisfaction.
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