I just finished suffering through an almost pointless meeting.
Happens all the time, actually. In fact, it happens all the time for most of us. So why is that? Why do we continue to spend so much time in meetings we all know are useless?
Today, during the meeting, prior to paper-cutting my wrists with the agenda, I did some figuring. I tried to figure out what that meeting was costing us, simply based on hourly rates from the salaries of the people in the room. I came up with $210 for this one-hour meeting (and that only accounts for people on my side of the conference call).
That’s not astounding, but it’s only four people. You can see where this can get out-of-hand quickly.
Put a Price Tag on Your Meetings
Of course, the first question that came to mind after determining this number was, “Is what we’re doing right now worth $210?”
What would happen if we started asking that simple question before a) setting up a meeting and
b) starting a meeting?
I actually think it would revolutionize many offices.
Use This Simple Formula
Here’s a simple formula I think you can follow to apply this to your own meetings without overwhelming yourself with salary spreadsheets and graphic calculators:
Set up three or four salary segments. Rather than guess at everyone’s salary, just set up a ballpark number for a level. For example, make entry-level $45k, managers $75k, directors $100k and senior execs $200k. You can obviously tweak as needed. The key is to ballpark it based on your own assumptions, and just move on. Also, don’t create any more than four segments, for simplicity’s sake.
Determine the hourly rate for each segment. Keep this simple. Assume 50 weeks a year, and five working days a week. That’s 250 working days a year. Divide each salary by 250. That gives you the daily rate for each. Then, divide that number by 8 working hours a day, and now you have your hourly rate for each. In the examples above, the hourly rates would be:
- Entry – $22.50
- Manager – $37.50
- Director – $50
- Senior Exec – $100
Figure the cost of each meeting before you schedule it. Think you need a meeting? Great. Figure out the list of people you wanna invite, then assign each one to a salary segment. Got a one-hour meeting that includes two entry levels, five managers, three directors and two senior execs? That’ll be $582. Think you need to touch base with the entire senior team of 10 and 10 directors? It better be worth $1,500.
Reduce the cost of your meetings. Once you determine the cost of a meeting, lots of things can happen. You may realize you can accomplish what you need without a meeting at all. Maybe an email or a shareable document will do the trick. Or, you may realize you don’t need quite as many people at the meeting, making it less costly once you’ve uninvited some.
Make your meetings worth more than their cost. Once you trim the cost of the meeting to the lowest effective level, now you have to make sure your meeting is worth it. Set the agenda. Ask for participants to prep ahead of time. Make sure the room is set optimally. Make it clear at the beginning what you’re going to achieve in the meeting, then leave it at that. The goal here is to make sure the company is actually glad you’re calling that $500 meeting. Imagine you’re the one shelling out the $500 and get the most bang for your buck.
I’m not anti-meeting. They are definitely necessary at times. Just not as much as they occur. Worse than that, people suck at leading meetings.
Maybe putting a price tag on them could force them to get a little better.
About Brett Duncan
He worked for his first direct sales company two days a week while still in college packing shipments in their warehouse from 5 until midnight. He began at the entry level of the marketing department at AdvoCare, International in 2002, rising to the position of marketing manager before he left in 2007. In 2009, he joined Mannatech as Sr. Director of Global Online Solutions. He was then promoted to Vice President of Global Marketing in 2011.