The new chief executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia has banned staff from holding internal meetings between 10am and 4pm, a move backed by business performance expert Ed Robins.
Chief executive Luke Sayers claims meetings at these times distract employees from attending to clients, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.
His move is part of a wide-ranging push to increase billable hours at the accountancy firm, which yesterday announced plans to scrap 211 jobs in a corporate restructure.
“All I ask [is] to reduce non-client demands on each other’s time, with the aim of making the hours of 10am to 4pm client and market time, not internal meeting time,” Sayers said in an internal email published by the newspaper.
“I also ask that all meetings are chaired with purpose and are scheduled to be respectful of the time taken and the circumstances on those invited.”
PwC was contacted for comment but did not respond prior to publication.
Robins, director of ProFocus, a company that trains organisations to work more effectively, told SmartCompany he “agreed in principle” with Sayers’ ban.
“The client, the customer and their needs must be taken into account in all your decision-making, so it is hard to argue with that,” says Robins.
“It brings you back to the point of what are these meetings and what are their focus, is it part of customer focus anyway?
“In general I don’t see a problem with some proper scheduling but I would have hoped it would be a consultative process rather than just an edict from the throne.”
However, Robins says there is still a role for internal meetings at businesses.
“In some organisations, people are so busy serving customers that they don’t have time for meetings because they are only there for the hours that they are serving the customers, so, as a result, they don’t make improvements,” says Robins.
Here are five tips from Robins on how to run a good meeting:
1. Meetings need a purpose
A good meeting has a clear purpose. There is nothing worse than having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. “Ask what is the purpose of the meeting? What is its value?” says Robins.
“So often the meeting should not be held anyway; there is some other way of doing it.”
2. Have an agenda
An agenda for meetings gives the meeting a purpose and allows attendees to prepare their thoughts. “You set the agenda, you circulate it in advance along with any pre-reading or preparation that has to be done and the agenda should be formatted so it becomes the minutes,” Robins recommends.
3. Make it consultative
Meetings should involve attendees as much as possible rather than just being an opportunity for one person to rant. “Meetings need to be consultative, people need to have the ability to participate and evaluate: Too often they are hijacked by people with too much power and authority,” says Robins.
4. Keep it short
Meetings which just involve updates and do not involve making decisions should be as short as possible – keep them brief. “If you need to meet for updates, consider if it is the sort of meeting you can do standing or have a 20-minute time limit,” says Robins.
5. Evaluate meetings
At the end of a meeting, it’s worthwhile to take stock of how it went. “Always evaluate the meetings; people need an opportunity to say, yes, that was a good meeting,” Robins says.