- One of the many ways to wealth that we often discuss is starting your own business, but how you run your business is also key.
- Today, Mark Ford explains how meetings can become a time suck and what you can do about it.
After the election but before being inaugurated as the 45th U.S. president, Donald Trump managed to upset some folks when he stopped attending the traditional daily national security briefings.
When asked why he refused to participate in such an obviously important practice, he explained that 80% to 100% of each briefing repeated the information of prior reports.
“I’m a smart guy,” he explained to the skeptical reporters. Hearing the same information day after day wasn’t helpful, he said. Quite the contrary, it was a waste of his valuable time.
“If new information comes in,” he added, “I’m available 24/7, on a moment’s notice.”
This behavior is a direct extension of one of Trump’s defining qualities: He is not a politician; he’s a businessman. Since business is all about maximizing gains and cutting losses, Trump views these repetitive briefings as a waste of time and resources.
Politicians, for the most part, experience the world through the lens of bureaucracy. They are much more tolerant of such time sucks. These people are notorious for their willingness to jump through hoops.
Whether or not electing a president with this business-savvy mindset will pay off for America still remains to be seen. But there is something important to be learned from Trump’s intolerance of unproductive meetings.
For anyone in the world of business – whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur – it’s important to see the world through a similar lens. This is nowhere more true than when you’re dealing with meetings.
Meetings are rarely well run. Inefficient meetings are a waste of time. Wasted time is money lost.
The less time that is wasted, the more time there is to be spent on important but non-urgent activities.
New startups rarely use scheduled meetings. When a group needs to have a conversation or make a decision, it tends to happen organically. Any new decision quickly and naturally makes its way to the rest of the group. However, as businesses grow, so does the unavoidable necessity for formal, planned-in-advance meetings.
In my book Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat, I explain the importance of managing your business while keeping the dangers of bottlenecks at bay. Bottlenecks are people or procedures that slow things down.
All bottlenecks are bad for business, and they should all be eliminated. Otherwise, they can creep in and start costing a business both time and money.
Luckily, most bottlenecks can be fixed by your intervention.
Like Trump, you should ensure that no time is wasted on unnecessary or repetitive material. To make sure your meetings are deliberate, organized and productive, follow these three rules:
- Schedule no more meetings than absolutely necessary.
- Ensure the purpose of each meeting is clear and vital.
- Communicate in a way that is streamlined, to the point and understood by the entire room – so that all meetings require as little repetition as possible.
If you’re a manager, you have the power to implement policies that cut down on the number of meetings. You also have the leadership power to demand that your teams work together and come up with creative solutions on their own, without needing to meet.
The good thing about bottlenecks is that you usually hear about them pretty quickly. Frustrated employees will find a way to let you know what’s going on. If you are smart, you will notice that meetings are cutting into people’s productive hours.
But there is one kind of bottleneck you may not notice because everyone’s afraid to tell you or because everyone is so accustomed to it. That bottleneck is you.
If you’re calling endless meetings – or if you’re an employee and constantly requesting one-on-one feedback from your boss – you might be responsible for creating a serious bottleneck in your business.
Should this be the case, one of the best things you can do is to let up on the reins a bit. In other words: Let go and let people figure it out on their own!
Trump recognized the absence of these principles in his security briefings, and so he did not hesitate to fix that.
In the world of business, there is no sense in scheduling a meeting when no one has any vital information to communicate. If your meetings carry meaning, your employees will have more respect for them when they occur.
Whatever you do, don’t accept the argument that bottlenecks can’t be fixed – especially when it comes to meetings.