In recent meeting facilitation workshops, I’ve begun to ask participants a simple question: “How much money can you spend without getting approval from someone else?” The most popular answers are ZERO, NADDA, and ZILCH. Many act surprised that I even had to ask.
For all the employees who believe they aren’t authorized to spend money, I ask some follow-up questions:
“Can you call a meeting?”
“Are there any limits on the number of people you can invite?”
“Are there restrictions on a meeting’s length?”
It appears that your employees, the ones who believe they can’t buy a box of donuts without permission, are spending a whole lot of money.
Meetings are expensive. Figure it out. Look around the next meeting you attend and estimate how much the meeting costs. Take a guess at each person’s salary. Add at least 30 percent for benefits and other employee costs. Divide by 2080. That’s the hourly rate for one person. Repeat for each person in the meeting and multiply by the length of the meeting.
By the way, if you can pull this off in an actual meeting, it’s probably a pretty bad meeting. This will give you something to occupy your brain instead of watching the clock.
Does the number shock you? Think about how many meetings happen in your organization. If you are ambitious you could do some back-of-the-napkin calculations and come up with an annual meeting cost for your company. It’s going to be a big number.
I’m not here to tell you whether the number is too high or even too low. Instead, I’m here to ask, “What did you get for your money?” Go ahead and evaluate your meetings. It will help you decide if it was worth it.
Meetings aren’t free. You ought to get your money’s worth. And if you aren’t, it’s time to take some action.
If you think it’s time to change the meeting culture in your organization, I’d be happy to show you how. Contact me to talk about how to get the most out of every meeting that happens at your company.
Image credit: Jayel Aheram