Time-wasting meetings are a top complaint of the business world and apparently, not even the country's hottest tech companies are immune.
Facebook, like just about every other organization, apparently struggles to pare down bloated meetings and ensure that as little time as possible is wasted in conference rooms. That's what you'd have to conclude from a short but fascinating post on question-and-answer site Quora from the company's COO.
In response to a questioner who wanted to know "How does Sheryl Sandberg plan her day?" the Facebook exec and Lean In author took the time to provide a glimpse into how she manages her time. Her answer offers a few interesting tidbits, such as the fact that she's out the door at a totally reasonable hour to eat dinner with her kids (seriously, if Sandberg can manage to leave at 5:30, why can't you?), as well as some insights into her boss's approach to meetings.
Like many business leaders, Sandberg reports, Zuckerberg saw there was scope to trim down meetings and save his team time and interruptions. "Mark has done a really good job improving the efficiency of meetings at Facebook this year," she writes. How did he accomplish that?
Zuckerberg's tricks for more efficient meetings.
Sandberg names two powerful, common sense strategies. First, "he asks people to send materials in advance so we can use the time for discussion," she notes. Second, "we try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting--are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?" Sandberg says.
There's nothing fancy about these steps taken by Zuckerberg, but his approach is endorsed by several experts. Jason Shah, CEO of Do.com, a tool for better meetings, included these very ideas in his list of top tips for more efficient meetings.
Every meeting should have a stated purpose, such as "By the end of this meeting, this decision needs to be made," or "We're here to discuss X," he told Inc.com. A generic purpose like "sales meeting" doesn't cut it. Likewise, he advises that if you're calling a meeting, "you should list out a few key questions for people to think about" beforehand. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos goes so far as to demand his subordinates write a multipage memo outlining their thoughts before every meeting.
Though these strategies to halt meeting creep are easily actionable and endorsed by lots of big name CEOs, however, not everyone has adopted them. Plenty of leaders still allow their team to wander into meetings without a clue about what's going to be discussed or what exactly they need to accomplish in the gathering. Are you one of them?