Did you know that employees use an average of 4.5 hours on status meetings every week?
That’s at least what a Clarizen/Harris Poll survey found in 2014. According to the survey, 35% said status meetings are a waste of time and 46% wanted to do another unpleasant activity instead of attending them.
This begs the question:
Are status meetings a must? Do you need them, or can you communicate with your co-workers in a more effective way? Read on to find out!
What’s a status meeting?
A status meeting is a communication channel for sharing news and information in an organization. Sometimes they’re held on a monthly and sometimes on a weekly basis.
More recently, they’ve morphed into stand-up meetings, where participants stand up to keep the meeting short. And for remote teams, status meetings are often done with a meeting tool like Skype.
Why are status meetings held?
There are several reasons why status meetings are held.
They’re often considered cost-effective because teams have an hour to brief each other and discuss what’s going on. They’re used for communication, to build company culture, and to keep employees connected.
Managers might hold them to avoid getting the same questions throughout the week. They might also want to have a forum for those questions so that they don’t get interrupted at random times. Alternatively, they feel that there’s a communication bottleneck because they’re too busy to answer questions.
So far, so good. After all, you need some outlet for communicating these things.
But more often than not, organizations don’t justify why they hold status meetings. Instead, they’ve become a mindless habit.
At the same time, status meetings can be highly unproductive, counterproductive, time-consuming, and costly. Thanks to technology, there are better ways to communicate and connect with your team members.
In the following, we share why status meetings are not the best way to communicate with team members and what you can do instead.
Why status meetings aren’t cost-effective
You might be making this same mistake:
Scheduling an hour of uninterrupted communication every week might seem like an effective way to share information. After all, it’s just an hour and you get everyone on board without having to go back and forth.
So status meetings might seem cost-effective. Unfortunately, they’re not. Here’s why.
The true cost of status meetings
Think about it:
If your status meeting is an hour long, your cost is the total sum of every meeting participant’s hourly rate. And in the end, that can be a significant sum.
What more, you need to add the time it takes for employees to prepare and get to the meeting and back to their offices after the meeting. According to the Clarizen survey we referred to above, the average employee uses 4.6 hours to prepare for status meetings every week. That means they use even more time preparing for meetings than attending them.
Plus, factor in other direct and indirect costs and your meeting is suddenly extremely expensive. So take into account costs like costs for your meeting space, lowered productivity, and employee dissatisfaction. Or opportunity costs like attending a meeting instead of focusing on work that gives direct or indirect returns.
Not to mention that almost everyone has a ritual to get started on their work after an interruption. You sit down and use a few minutes (or longer) to check a news site, Facebook, or something else. That time adds up and it’s a cost you need to take into consideration when calculating the cost of your weekly status meetings.
So, why do you hold status meetings now again?
Sure, you need a place to share information. But there are more effective ways to do just that.
Why status meetings aren’t the most effective communication channel
Are meetings the best way to share information every week?
Now, status meetings might seem like a good way to communicate within a team. You get everyone face to face to discuss things that are going on in your organization.
But the problem is that employees are forced to fit in status meetings in their schedules. Often, these meetings interrupt the employee’s day and workflow.
And, the information that’s shared is not always relevant for every participant, so it’s not the best use of their time. When they need the information, it’s not easily accessible unless there’s a good system for tagging and archiving old status meeting agendas and reports.
Plus, in a bigger organization, employees participate in several recurring status meetings, because they work across departments. And a status meeting for all employees doesn’t make much sense. In that case, there are just too many people on board, which means there’s not enough time to discuss everything in an hour.
In short, status meetings aren’t the best way to share information.
What can you do instead?
Instead, you can use technology to enable everyone to communicate when it fits their schedule.
For example, Basecamp uses this strategy. The company asks employees to post notes on what they worked on every day. Because it’s all done virtually, employees can choose when they do so. On Monday, employees then post what they’re planning to work on during the week.
It’s all done in writing and team members can go through the information when it fits them. If they need it later on, it’s easy to find exactly who said something, when, what, and why.
You can use this to communicate with your team. Send out automatic posts on a weekly and daily basis. You can ask them to write a quick memo or even send a recording with a short summary. Keep notes together and organize them by tags, so that people can access them and post questions, comments, and replies.
But what tools can you use to make communication easier?
Try Basecamp or our own tool, Minute. Minute is usually used in in-person meetings, but because you can upload notes, comments, and keep them for later, you can use it for virtual weekly updates, too.
And if you don’t want to use an app, you can always use a tool like Google Docs. In that case, you create a dedicated folder, upload a new document every week, and let co-workers add their notes to that document.
Why status meetings are bad for connecting with co-workers.
Why status meetings aren’t the best way to build your company culture
You might argue that status meetings are important for connecting with your team. For example, if your team is remote, you want to connect at least once a week.
But status meetings are unpopular among employees. If something feels pointless and overly time consuming, motivation will go down. So in the end, it might be counterproductive to hold status meetings as a tool for building company culture.
A better way to build your company culture
There are better ways to connect with your team.
For example, catch up on Friday afternoon to do fun activities together. Or organize a yearly retreat (if you’re a remote company). Use a Slack channel where employees can talk about stuff that’s not related to work.
Building your company culture in this way will be much more popular and motivating than holding unnecessary weekly meetings. And if you share information in the way we outlined above, you don’t miss out on anything. Quite the contrary- you optimize your organization’s communication and strengthen your company culture.
Want to know how you can easily stop holding status meetings? Read on!
How to stop holding status meetings
If you’ve always held status meetings, it can be hard to phase them out.
That’s why you need to start small and work from there.
After all, it might take some time to figure out what works best for your team and get everyone on board. For example, continue holding your status meetings and at the same time, implement virtual weekly questions. That way, you can discuss any shortcomings during your status meetings.
Then, turn them into daily and weekly questions. When that’s working for you, the last step is to remove meetings from your schedule.
If you must hold status meetings (say, your organization requires that), hold them once a month. But those meetings should only be about discussing the status updates you’ve shared throughout the month.
In the end, that’s how you stop holding status meetings and save time, energy, and money in the process.
Conclusion: Status meetings don’t serve a purpose anymore
Now you know why status meetings should be banned in 2017 and what you can do instead.
Make no mistake:
The idea behind status meetings is vital for your organization.
You need to communicate and connect with co-workers. But today, there are so many other ways to do the same thing with less hassle.
Have you thought about replacing your status meetings with other communication tools? Why/why not? Let us know in the comments below!