46% Would Rather Watch Paint Dry Than Do This Work Activity [INFOGRAPHIC]

Ever wonder if anyone is paying attention during a status meeting? Chances are they aren’t.

According to the results of a Harris Poll  46% Would Rather Watch Paint Dry Than Do This Work Activity [INFOGRAPHIC]survey around workforce productivity, conducted by Clarizen, 46 percent of employed workers would actually prefer to be almost anywhere else unpleasant instead of sitting in a status meeting. Unfortunately, “anywhere else” includes going to the DMV, watching paint dry, or commuting for four hours. Oh, and how about a root canal or mullet hairstyle? They take preference over status meetings, too. Ouch.

But, since status meeting attendees are often required to attend these meetings as part of their job responsibilities, they may be physically in attendance, but the poll shows that 59 percent of attendees reported that they are actually multitasking (e.g., checking email, doing other work, etc.) during meetings. Loosely translated: less than half are really there and paying attention.

So the problem with these status meetings isn’t just that people aren’t mentally present, but it is also that preparing for the meeting often takes longer than the meeting itself (4.6 hours preparing each week compared to 4.5 hours attending each week) and status meeting attendees generally feel that the entire process is a total waste of time. As a result, traditional status meetings can be a productivity killer from both physical and mental aspects, for companies not opting to change their format.

So what is a company, department, or leader to do? A consideration is changing the format of status meetings to focus on what really matters and ensure engagement actually happens and is sustainable. This means focusing on how the meetings are conducted, who is present, and keeping meetings within a predetermined timeframe.

In addition, here are three considerations for hosting more productive and engaging status meetings where attendees aren’t wishing they were at the DMV.

  1. Stand up. For brief status meetings, studies have shown that meeting “on your feet” is a way to keep an audience engaged and on focus. These 10 or 15-minute meetings are usually focused on providing status reports and because everyone is literally standing, the meetings are quicker, the attendees are focused, and the energy is higher.
  1. Use collaboration software. Since status meetings are often a collaboration of people sharing their workload and reporting progress, a lot of this can be reported in advance and the actual meeting time could be used for questions and discussions related to the updates. So, in front of a quick 5 or 10-minute status meeting, collaboration software that invites everyone to report their “status” could greatly shorten the amount of time spent in the meeting. Some collaboration tools, such as Clarizen (enterprise work collaboration software) uses conversations from participants and takes the data a step further. Clarizen creates a work graph that visually maps a project and this tool could be used as a point of reference and focal point if a meeting is needed.
  1. Narrow the focus. According to an article by Geoffrey James, Contributing Editor at Inc.com, holding a meeting to “simply to update everybody is flushing time (and therefore money) down the toilet.” Instead, James suggests really hashing out the topic of the meeting and sticking to meetings that serve a more focused purpose (e.g., a kickoff or planning meeting). In lieu of the status meeting, James suggests written summaries and then following up with meetings about specific actions if/when necessary – and potentially turning these into 1:1 opportunities.

While status reporting and collaboration is essential to success, the method behind the madness is something that can be altered to meet the needs of the attendees and ensure that status meetings don’t simply turn into time and energy sucks that are less attractive than sporting a mullet.

infographic survey web 622x1024 46% Would Rather Watch Paint Dry Than Do This Work Activity [INFOGRAPHIC]

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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Innovation » Jen Cohen Crompton