Status reporting is mainly for getting valuable insights into the team on a regular basis. Right? What if I told you that using status reports could additionally be the answer to your team meeting woes by acting as your team meeting agenda?
Status reports give you the insight into how things are humming around at the office. We have provided a progress report template for teams that hesitate to experiment with automatic online software.
But one, perhaps most surprising, side-effect or added value of using status report software is its the ability to improve team meetings. I'm sure you're familiar with the annoying team meeting that could've been an email.
I bet you remember a time you've held one of these cringe-like unproductive meetings. No one likes to feel that their time is wasted, especially when there is only so much time in the day with a set number of tasks to accomplish. Productive team meetings will please everyone involved.
Considering ditching the meetings all together? Hold your horses. We've tried teamwork without meetings. An experiment that lasted for a week, an taught us a thing or two about time management. We have also seen our clients improve their meetings by using weekly progress report.
The Problem: Unproductive Meetings
For a moment, let's discard the quote by Scottish writer and philosopher Thomas Carlyle that “Statistics are the greatest liars of them all” and concentrate on the data. We are trying to prove a point here, so we need facts to support our gut feeling. That being said, we did some research.
According to a Microsoft Office Survey employees average only 3 productive days per week. What is more, people across the globe spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings and 69% feel meetings aren't productive.
In the U.S. meetings are increasingly virtual, but still, take a rather aggressive and confrontational approach. Nevertheless, office workers spend an average of 4 hours per week in meetings. They feel more than half of that time is wasted. Therefore, employees in the U.S. waste average 2.5 hours a week that costs businesses 37 billion dollars a year.
In the UK meetings are very frequent and viewed as an open debate of an issue. They often are inconclusive with relatively little preparation done beforehand. UK office workers waste 2 hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week, and it's costing businesses an estimated 26 billion pounds a year.
Avoid being yet another statistic
Before jumping to solutions, it's important to know the exact problem. By analyzing the material on the biggest mistakes people make at meetings; 4 influential reasons stand out. What turns a meeting into unproductive one is usually one of four things:
- there is no clear agenda
- nobody is willing to take the role of the decision-maker
- people come unprepared
- lack of focus on strategic matters
Can status reports save team meetings?
The best way to plan a productive team meeting is to hold them after the status report deadline. That's when the information from status report can jump in and save the day. And some time. Oh, and some money. Let's go point-by-point:
- If you are like any other busy team leader, you probably don't have enough time to prepare agenda for every weekly team meeting. Although this is a tremendous mistake, there are remedies. Status reports provide an automatic meeting agenda. How? Each week, after the reporting deadline, you get an automatically compiled pdf report right to your inbox. This valuable document includes all the plans, progress, and problems of your team. With a glance you know which issues should be discussed and who to praise.
- As status report reflects each team member's contribution, you can decide to either take the decision-maker role by yourself or assign it to the person who is responsible for the task under observation. Which ever way you choose, communicate the decision at the beginning of the meeting.
- By making status reports visible to the team prior the meeting, everyone is in the loop. There are less surprises and the team can start the meeting from a mutual ground. The natural curiosity that is hidden inside each and every employee is exactly what makes them read through the report. There is nothing more satisfying than finding a new clever way to approach a problem and remove those blockers.
- Having a clear overview of people's activities and their outcomes during the week gives a valuable opportunity to focus on more strategic issues. Status reports indicate the challenges your team is facing and therefore help you focus the discussions on more pressing issues.
If you're truly committed to improving your team meetings, use also the fun interactive Team Meeting Checklist to improve productivity and remind everyone about the upcoming meeting. Before the meeting, go over the checklist, to remind yourself of the requirements of a productive meeting. Send the checklist to other participants together with the event invite.
But hey, if you still think status report can't save or improve your meetings; try out these 10 tactics by Sarah Cooper to appear smart during meetings:
1. Whenever facts are presented, draw a Venn diagram.
2. Loudly, translate percentages into fractions.
3. Every now and then, encourage people to "take a step back".
4. While others are speaking, nod continuously and pretend to take notes.
5. After the guy from engineering department has spoken, repeat the last thing he said, but very slowly.
6. If you're out of questions, just ask "will this scale?".
7. When the sleep kicks in, pace around the room.
8. During a presentation, ask the speaker to go back a slide.
9. Make yourself important by stepping out to take a fake phone call.
10. Last but not least, don't forget to make fun of yourself.
There are thousands of articles with great tips that might help you and your team to hold more productive team meetings. No doubt, these tricks might work as well, but they demand continuous attention and experimentation. Our idea is easy and it's already automated in a way, that doesn't demand extra time. Whether you decide to give our status report software a try or start off with our free progress report template, doesn't matter.
What truly matters for us, is that we would stop wasting our precious time on unproductive meetings and challenge ourselves and our teams to seize the day.
Now, the ball is in your court. Imagine having extra three hours a week, where would you invest that time?