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The One Thing Killing Your Employees’ Motivation

What’s the one surefire way to completely squash your employees’ motivation?

Imprison them in meetings.

Maybe you’ve seen this yourself — you get into the office, hellbent on getting your work done for the day, and then experience the shock of realizing you’re booked in meetings from 10AM to 4PM, solid. Well, there goes your productivity.

The worst offender of all is the dreaded status meeting, or check-in meeting. Interestingly enough, a recent Harris poll (sponsored by online collaboration company Clarizen) indicates that employees spend an average of 4.5 hours a week in status meetings, and 4.6 hours preparing for them. In fact, 60% of respondents report that preparing for these meetings takes longer than the meetings themselves.

But further statistics gathered by the company tell us more:

46% of employed Americans would rather do an assortment of unpleasant tasks than sit in a status meeting.

18% would rather take a trip to the DMV.

17% would rather watch paint dry.

12% would rather commute four hours to and from work.

35% of employees consider status meetings 'a waste of their time.'

Finally, the truth comes out: employees hate status meetings.

Reaching a Happy Medium

Don’t interpret the above statistics the wrong way. Meetings are still valuable when they’re focused on brainstorming, problem-solving, and working cross-functionally (for example, identifying areas for collaboration). It’s the way these meetings are often conducted that leads to such a loss in productivity. When employees spend more time preparing for meetings than they do in them, that’s an incredible loss in time that could be spent getting actual work done (look at it this way: if employees are spending a total of nine hours each week preparing for and sitting in status meetings — and that’s just status meetings, mind you — we’re looking at an entire day of the work week, lost).

So what are some good alternatives to status meetings that will still give team members the opportunity to sync up and gain insight into their coworkers needs and accomplishments?

Have stand-ups.

Yes, I’m suggesting that you literally stand up when you have your check-ins. This is becoming a more and more popular alternative to the traditional seated status meeting, especially at startups and smaller companies. You don’t want to have to stand for hours at a time, right? Not only is this a good way to mix things up, but it also forces employees to keep their updates short — unless they want to incur the wrath of their teammates standing next to them.

Schedule a weekly team lunch.

If your team needs to have a weekly status meeting, why not multitask and do it over lunch? According to the Harris poll, 60% of employees multitask during status meetings anyway — so try providing lunch on a weekly basis and giving everyone some time to catch up on projects while chowing down on a local favorite. You never know, your weekly meeting might even become something your employees look forward to!

Create an employee forum.

Employees want to be heard — but often, they’d rather voice their concerns and opinions one-on-one or anonymously rather than in front of their peers at a status meeting. Setting up an internal employee forum or enablement system can give employees a platform to speak up from the comfort of their desks, without having to take time away from their day by scheduling a meeting for every little item that comes up.

Meet in a playspace.

This is one of my favorite alternatives to traditional status meetings. Does your office have a space for employees to blow off steam? A ping pong table, pool table, beanbags, or something similar? Especially for smaller status meetings, chatting over a quick game of pool can go a long way toward toning down the dullness of a check-in meeting.

Have an open-door policy.

Hopefully, your company has a hiring strategy in place to bring in hard-working, talented employees. And hopefully, these hard-working, talented employees are also people you can trust to bring up issues on their own. Creating an open-door policy can mitigate the obligatory aspect of meetings by placing the responsibility on the employees to keep their teammates updated on ongoing projects. As many startups have have found, Pardot included, empowered employees are the most motivated employees.

Take a lap.

No one wants to spend all day sitting at their desk. At Pardot, we’ve found success with weekly one-on-one meetings that involve a quick walk around our building on a nice day. Not only does this get employees away from their desks, it also ensures that check-ins take minimal time out of the day. You get one lap around the building to chat (no more, no less!), then it’s back to the tasks you want to focus on.

What other alternatives can you think of for weekly status meetings? Let us know how your company mixes things up in the comments!