In 2017, workplaces are anticipating tremendous change in time management and the structure of the work- day. Technology makes workers more mobile, with seemingly daily developments and improvements in accessing information.
By definition, efficiency—working in a well-organized and competent way—helps to manage a situation or resource without wasting time and energy. Despite more than a decade of advancements in organizational workloads and innovative improvements, many workers today experience the same challenges as workers from the 1990s: a lack of time in the workday to accomplish key goals and even basic, everyday tasks. What can change to improve the use and availability of time at work?
In Al Pittampalli’s book “Read This before Our Next Meeting,” he notes that the average worker spends 11 hours in meetings every week. With so much time committed to meetings, Pittampalli emphasizes that it is vital that any meetings that occur create and be part of a culture of decisive action.
Examples of successful, efficient meetings abound. From famous treaties and negotiations to casting calls and chance encounters, meetings are part of our lives and shared history—and Hollywood lore. Carrie Fisher’s “The Princess Diarist” recounts the late actress’s first sit-down with Star Wars director George Lucas in an unobtrusive Hollywood office building. Fisher mentions that, of the many meetings that likely occurred in these buildings, “hopeful meetings, meetings where big plans were made and ideas were proposed … none of them could compare in world impact with the casting calls for ‘Star Wars.’” Her iconic role as Princess Leia started with that encounter in 1976—changing her life with a single meeting.
Meaningful and efficient meetings don’t require the intergalactic elements of a “Star Wars” casting call, but they do require sound planning, a respect for the participant’s time and a tangible action plan. Great workplaces understand and value their team members’ time—unwanted, unproductive tasks are demotivating and a drain on resources—including meetings that lack a clear agenda, reasonable action items and deadlines.
In Hassan Osman’s book “Influencing Virtual Teams,” the author references a McKinsey & Co. study, “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies,” which found that the average worker spends over 28 percent of their workweek managing email. So, for a 40-hour workweek, this is 11 hours spent on email alone.
Meetings, emails and other demands on time—how can workplaces avoid the consequences of lost productivity? Google has mastered the art of running an efficient organization, starting with great meetings. Consistently ranked as one of the best companies, Google’s organizational structure and tech savvy workforce help the company run effective meetings.
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent, Alphabet, details in the book “How Google Works” specific meeting tactics Google uses, emphasizing that a well-run meeting can be the most efficient way to present data and opinions, debate issues and make decisions. Far from a waste of time and resources, Google thrives on get-togethers and updates. Google structures its meetings by reinforcing that every meeting needs: a leader, clear purpose, “owners” of the happenings, time constraints, only the presence of necessary attendees and attentive participants.
At Dixon Schwabl, we value the contribution made by the individual employee and demonstrate this by treating each employee as an individual. Our core values are respect, integrity, teamwork, community and fun; part of respecting employees is recognizing their efforts in making our workplace successful.
In our company handbook, we detail that “we seek to develop a spirit of teamwork; individuals working together to attain a common goal … we take into account individual circumstances and the individual employee.” With an increasingly competitive market, job seekers and top talent are keen to find positive work environments, particularly those that recognize and respect their strengths and skill-sets as the key element of their individual contribution.
A recent Gallup poll based on a study of 6,600 employees globally found that people who joined an organization because “it presented a good opportunity to fully leverage” their skills or it matched what they believed in were “far more likely to be highly qualified for the role,” while those who joined for benefits, work hours, or personal and family needs were less likely to be highly qualified.
Just as consumers are accustomed to shopping and buying favorite brands, the same concept applies to job seekers’ quests for the ideal role and employer. They examine the company’s “brand” in its workplace culture—including core values, mission and vision.
It is a challenge to build a company brand. Gallup’s research found that only 41 percent of U.S. employees “strongly agree that they know what makes their company’s brand different from that of competitors; therefore, they can’t effectively communicate to its customers.” The same research concluded that strong hires make for the best brand ambassadors because “by finding and hiring people who are most likely to naturally embody the company’s brand and culture, companies lay the groundwork for consistent, valuable interactions with customers.”
The Great Place to Work Institute’s Giftwork Spectrum includes the practice area for “inspiring”—specifically, demonstrating the links between employee efforts and achieving goals, stressing the company’s unique contribution to the market and society, and pointing out behaviors that exemplify the company’s values.
Efficient meetings are a component of a positive work culture. Team members today seek a workplace that fits their strengths and allows them to thrive at work. Creating meetings with forums that are effective and personal helps distinguish and differentiate great workplaces.
Lauren Dixon is CEO of Dixon Schwabl Inc.
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