How Effective Communication and Time Management Contributes to Employee Satisfaction
Within an organization, time is money. Literally. The time that we spend, working effectively and efficiently, contributes to the earnings of the organizations we work for. That’s why they hired us. Yet, there is one thing standing in the way of effective time management throughout the workday: Meetings. Rarely will you encounter an organization that does not utilize meetings, even if it’s only occasionally. While the purpose, length, and size of meetings will vary based on where you work and what you do, we can make a sweeping generalization about most meetings; They suck.
But do they have to?
According to Rogelberg et al. (2011), meetings are not meant to be an exercise in futility but an irreplaceable venue for teams to exercise “group decision making, problem solving, sense making, and communication.”. They are also a financial investment. So, we ask the age-old question, why should we be having meetings? Anthropologist Helen Schwartzman provides a shockingly sensible solution, “instead of having the meeting as a place to solve problems, we need to have problems and crises and decisions to produce meetings.” (Dubner, 2019).
So, we have a why. We meet because we have to solve a problem. Say a problem has arisen and we are in charge of planning this meeting, our next logical question is going to be ‘How long should this meeting last?’. This is where Parkinson’s Law comes into play. Parkinson’s Law was first coined by C. Northcote Parkinson who wrote “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” (Shantz, 2008). This means that if we create a two-hour meeting, we will find an excuse to make the meeting last for two hours. Conversely, this can also be applied to setting time-limits. By making shorter meetings that directly address a current problem, we are able to give attendees a sense of purpose, motivation, and show them that we value their time. Naturally, this approach also saves the organization money.
The last basic question when creating a meeting is who should attend? We can find the answer to this question by going full circle and looking back at why we are meeting in the first place. We meet to solve problems. A problem or a situation has produced the opportunity for a meeting, so the only people that should be present are those that the problem pertains to. The decision makers, those that can provide insightful input, there is no need to send a blanket invite to the entire office. While it may be easier to simply mark everyone’s schedule on google calendar, or send an email to everyone, the goal is to show employees that their time matters. Valuing employees, effective time management, and purposeful, pertinent communication all lead to more satisfactory meetings. Which increase employee satisfaction. Which saves time. Which saves money.
Dubner, S. J. (2019, September 18). How to Make Meetings Less Terrible. Retrieved October 13, 2019, from http://freakonomics.com/podcast/meetings/.
Rogelberg, S. G., Rhoades Shanock, L., & Scott, C. W. (2011). Wasted Time and Money in Meetings: Increasing Return on Investment. Small Group Research, 43(2), 236–245. Retrieved from https://journals- sagepubcom.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/doi/full/10.1177/1046496411429170?utm_source =summon&utm_medium=discovery-provider.
Shantz J. A. (2008). Battling Parkinson’s Law. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 179(9), 968. doi:10.1503/cmaj.081266.