How-To-Prevent-Employee-Burnout-By-Sending-People-To-Fewer-Meetings - Meeting Leadership Podcast Episode

Employee burnout is usually the result of prolonged stress in the workplace.

Stress can come from many different places at work, but it usually comes down to “too much to do, not enough time.” Meetings are a necessary part of our lives in any organization, but we should always be aware of how much time they are taking from the job.

This begs the question: how many meetings is too many? Episode #060 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast seeks to answer that question and provide ways you can cut the extra meetings once the line has become clear.

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to The Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Shepherd.

00:27 – Start Here! Podcast content starts here!

Welcome to another episode of the meeting leadership podcast. My name is Gordon Shepherd and I want to say thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time here with me today, because if you are here that it means that you are a professional who wants to up their game. You’re looking for one more tip, one more trick to become a stronger leader, and you also want to learn how to have outstanding meetings. You’re coming here to this podcast to get that done. Thank you so much for being here. 

00:53 – Are your employees attending too many meetings?

Today’s episode is directly aimed at the C suite. I’m talking the CEOs, the COOs, the folks who are in charge because right now I can tell you in your organization there are some of your best people who are being burnt out by something that is easily preventable. When I say that, I mean that some of those people are being sent to way too many daytime meetings and they have to do their regular work at night.

01:31 – The inspiration for this episode

So to help you combat this disaster, today we’re going to talk about how to prevent employee burnout by sending people to fewer meetings. When I say fewer, I really mean fewer, and let me tell you a story about the inspiration for doing this episode. Now, when I teach at conferences, there’s a little exercise that I do, and I’m working with folks that are way up in their organizations. I’ll say, “Okay, everybody put your hand in the air if you are in at least one meeting per week.” Well, of course all the hands go up in the air. Then I say, “Now, keep your hand up in the air if you are in at least two meetings per week.” Now for the most part, all the hands stay up, and then I start counting and I say three and four and five.

02:27 – Step 1 – Gather lists of your employees’ meeting schedules

You wouldn’t believe it, but there are some people in the room, especially in the healthcare industry, who’s hands are still up at 30, as in they are attending 30 day time meetings every week. Well, what does that mean? It means that they have to go home and do their regular work at night, and that is not in the shiny webpages and posters that you put up when you did your recruiting to get that person into your organization. If you don’t want to lose them, if you don’t want to burn them out because that pace is just not sustainable. The first step is pretty simple. Your CEO should ask their team to submit a list of all the meetings that they attend during any given week, and this might be one of the first moments where the CEO realizes how many useless meetings that people are actually attending. 

02:49 – Step 2 – Review the meeting inventory with senior leaders

Then in the second step, the CEO should then have brief one on one meetings with each senior leader to review their meeting inventory list. 

02:58 – Step 3 – Cut out or shorten least necessary meetings

Which leads us into the third step, which should ideally happen in that same meeting, when both the CEO and the senior leader cut out or shorten the least necessary meetings.

03:10 – Step 4 – Review the impact of the actions

The fourth step should take place about a month later when the senior leader reports back to the CEO about the impact of this action. 

03:19 – A cautionary tale of meeting burnout

Let me take a moment to share a real story that is directly related to this. Now, I know a project manager who read my book called the meeting leadership solution, and they got a little bit bold and they went back to their senior leader and they said, “Hey, why do we need to meet for an updates meeting once a week for an hour? Why can’t we do that every second week instead?” The boss said, “Well, we’ve always done it that way, but you know what? I guess we’ll try it.” Well, didn’t they try it and guess what happened? The boss did that with all of their direct reports, and then guess what happened? The boss did it with all of their direct reports, and eventually got a full day a month back into their schedule.

04:09 – Step 5 – Set up a scheme to gather information on unnecessary meetings and cut them

Can you imagine doing this type of little tweak with the senior people in your organization? How many more important projects would they be able to get onto by getting this type of time back into their calendar? The fifth step that I would recommend for this process happens when the senior leader and the CEO are kind of done. They’ve set up a language for the situation. Then what should happen is the senior leader should be empowered to begin this whole process with their direct reports. And you can see where this is going. Pretty soon all of the worst meetings throughout the organization will be cut out, and then perhaps the head of HR could put this directly onto your recruiting page and it would say something like, “If you join our organization, we will not waste your time at all in any bad meeting.”

04:45 – Episode recap

Now, let me take a moment to recap the key concepts that we’ve covered in this episode. The first step was the CEO is going to get a list of all these daytime meetings from their direct reports. Then in the second step, the CEO is going to do one on one reviews of all those meetings, and during that one-on-one they’re going to cut out at least one or two bad meetings from that senior leaders calendar. Then in the fourth step, about a month later, the senior leader will report back about all the things they’ve done with the extra time they got back from cutting out bad meetings. In the fifth step, that’s the game changer. That’s when you set up the pyramid scheme to gather up the information, locate those bad meetings and cut them right out of your organization, so that overall you can grow your productivity, and ultimately this will lead to you serving your customers and your community at the highest possible level.

05:36 – Meeting Leadership Academy –

I also want to let you know that this episode of the meeting leadership podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. If you’re looking for great options to train your team to grow their leadership skills and learn how to have outstanding meetings, then check out For everyone who is a subscriber to the show, thank you so much, and if you haven’t done it yet, please go ahead and hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast approximately, and don’t forget to rate and review. That’s the kind of thing that really helps us get this kind of messaging out to way more people. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

06:16 – Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader, and don’t forget to rate dead review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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