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Taming the meeting beast

When in doubt, have a meeting, or so goes the old saying. Most CEOs, however, would not agree!

Despite videoconferencing, teleconferencing and a plethora of mobile e-devices, chief executives are spending more time "in a meeting" than ever, according to a recent report in The Australian.

According to a joint study by the London School of Economics and the Harvard Business School, one-third of a typical chief executive's 55 hour working week is spent in meetings, with a further five hours on phone calls and five hours at business meals.

Travel time adds to the mix, with the result that the Melbourne to Sydney air route, linking Australia's two main business centres, is the fourth busiest domestic route in the world.

Perth-based Wesfarmers Chief Executive Richard Goyder also has an office in Melbourne, where major subsidiaries Coles and Bunnings are based.

He eats lunch at his desk and laments the difficulties in maintaining his customary afternoon jog.

The good news is that Goyder and other CEOs are working out ways of keeping meetings short.

Meetings at Wesfarmers are brief and commercially focused.

"I think when people have a meeting with me they're always conscious to keep things reasonably succinct", says Goyder.

A recent University of Minnesota study has also found that long and frequent meetings contribute to "negative effects" on participants, such as "anxiety, burnout and depression".

iHR deals with many different organisations – some observe the Goyder rule of succinct meetings and others do not.  Time management, however, is a key aspect of Managing Everyday Performance.

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