The Only 3 Reasons to Hold a Business Meeting

by Sharlyn Lauby on March 31, 2015

Business meetings are the bane of our professional lives. According to The Muse, managers spent between 35 – 50% of their time in meetings. That’s a pretty significant number.

You might be saying, the answer to this is get rid of meetings. But here’s the thing. I doubt that meetings are going away. The definition of meeting is “a coming together of two or more people, by chance or arrangement.” People will still get together to accomplish stuff. That’s a meeting.

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Some companies feel the way to reduce the number of meetings is to attach rules or guidelines to them. For example, companies will abolish meetings on Tuesdays. I can’t help but think they’re in essence saying, “Schedule the meeting on Wednesday.” Meaning, they really aren’t impacting the amount of time in meetings. They’re just taking one day off the meeting schedule. Or what about the organizations that mandate 10 minute meetings. Aren’t they really telling employees, “Have all the meetings you want, just make them all 10 minutes long.”

These rules or guidelines don’t fix the real issue. The way to fix our problem with business meetings is to run better meetings. Starting with the reason a meeting should be scheduled in the first place.

I’ve never heard a person complain about a meeting that was essential. Granted they might complain about the way it was conducted. I’ll save that for another post. But as a general rule, people do not complain when the reason for scheduling the meeting is legit. And they will always complain if the meeting was called and could have been handled with an email.

In my experience, there are only three reasons to hold a meeting.

  1. The first reason to hold a meeting is to provide information. Those regularly scheduled department meetings are a perfect example. The purpose of those meetings is to provide information. The reason they’re so dreaded is because, when there’s nothing to convey, the meeting still happens.

Same with networking meetings. These are useful, valuable opportunities that participants should covet. Despite what someone says, those synergy calls when one person talks the entire time are not networking meetings. They’re really sales presentations.

Brainstorming meetings are another type of meeting designed to provide information. Brainstorming often gets a bad rap because people use the time to also evaluate ideas, which is contrary to the whole brainstorming concept.

  1. The second reason to hold a meeting is to create a mechanism for decision making. One of the most important decision making meetings in business is strategic planning. The organization is developing their goals and direction. Other types of decision making meeting are pitch meetings, where individuals or organizations are pitching their ideas and project meetings, where groups are tasked with accomplishing a goal or task.
  1. The last reason to hold a meeting is to allow for feedback and discussion. Before you ask, I do view feedback a bit different than information. Feedback is a reaction to a product or performance used to ultimately create improvement. The first type of feedback meeting that comes to mind is the focus group. Whether it’s internal or external, focus groups are completely about providing feedback.

Employee coaching meetings are another form of meeting. It can be to tell an employee they’re doing well or to share concerns. But it is a meeting. There’s also training meetings. When training is done properly, it’s about creating a safe environment where individuals can learn, practice, and receive feedback.

One of the best skills to have as a working professional is the ability to run a good business meeting. Employees who have this skill will be able to gather groups and engage their talents. The first step is knowing when to call the meeting.

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Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby


Everything #HR Needs to Know About SaaS

by Sharlyn Lauby on March 29, 2015

In our continuing series on human resources and technology, I thought it would be good to cover a term that gets thrown around a lot – SaaS. It’s an acronym for Software-as-a-Service.

Many times, when I hear the term SaaS, it’s used in the same sentence as “the cloud.” So much so that it’s easy to wonder about the relationship between the two. Are they the same? Different? And how do they work?

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So I reached out to a friend who works with a SaaS product to see if she would share her expertise. And luckily, she said yes. Helene Kopel is a product development leader specializing in Web-based products for small businesses. She currently spearheads the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) product development and customer success teams for the HRdirect Family of Brands, including TrackSmart employee time and attendance software and Hello Scheduling staff scheduling software.

What is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)?

[Helene] Basically, SaaS, is any software, paid for through a subscription or license rental that you use or run but isn’t installed on your computer. This is opposed to traditional software, which requires you to purchase a license outright and install the software on your own computer or network, using your own data center and servers.

How does SaaS compare to “the cloud”?

[Helene] Although people use the term differently, “the cloud” really only refers to computing resources – like data storage, virtual servers or networks that aren’t tied to a specific location. SaaS vendors, developers and information technology departments handle the technical side and work within the cloud to make sure the SaaS application works for the users. So when you run a SaaS application, you typically log in to the website and the app itself is running in the cloud, but you are not in the cloud; the SaaS app is.

What are the advantages to SaaS?

Helene Kopel, HRdirect, software, technology, HRdirect, SaaS, software as a service, cloud, Kopel[Helene] There are a lot of advantages. The biggest, by far, is how much faster SaaS is compared to traditional software. You don’t need to take a trip to the store or spend time downloading and installing programs. You can get up and running in minutes. There’s nothing to install or configure; it’s usually ready to go. Similarly, bug fixes or software updates happen more frequently than with traditional software, and, the user doesn’t have to do anything.

Another big advantage: SaaS products are typically more affordable. Instead of purchasing expensive software outright, you can pay a reasonable monthly or annual fee to access a program instead. Maintenance costs, updates and new releases are generally included in SaaS fees too, whereas traditional installed software usually requires you to buy an upgrade package and install it – or pay for others to help you do so.

Scalability is a huge advantage that SaaS has over traditional software, too. Many SaaS vendors offer a variety of plans, typically based upon sets of features or numbers of users, so you only pay for what you really need. At TrackSmart, for example, we know that employee attendance tracking software shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ service, and we offer different plans to accommodate businesses of various sizes and needs.

You mentioned affordability as one of the big benefits to SaaS. If I’m not currently using SaaS, is it expensive and time-consuming to move to a SaaS environment?

[Helene] Not at all. SaaS applications are typically cheaper and easier to use than traditional software. So while making the transition may take some time upfront, you’ll save time in the end since you won’t have to download or install any more upgrades, bug fixes, or other updates to traditional software. And there’s no major investment to get started.

So, there a lots of advantages. Is there a downside to SaaS?

[Helene] Since SaaS applications aren’t installed on your computer and typically require an Internet connection to run, speed and service outages – either on your end or the vendor’s – can be issues that affect your workflow. But the biggest issue, of course, is data security and privacy.

Speaking of security and privacy, is SaaS secure?

[Helene] SaaS applications can be very secure – sometimes more secure than traditional software. But businesses should always take care when transmitting sensitive employee data over the Internet. While there are many, many reputable and secure SaaS vendors, it’s a field full of startups that may be less-than-thorough with their security protocols. To best protect your employees and your business, only use services that have detailed security and privacy policies listed on their sites.

Last question, what do you see as the future of SaaS?

[Helene] Data integration will become much easier and more readily available, moving forward. One of the biggest downsides of traditional software is that these applications are usually independent tools that can’t always ‘talk to each other,’ for lack of a better term. Sometimes, the same information lives in multiple places, simply because it can’t be easily shared between different software, which means double the effort and time to upload or enter data. With the current trend toward data integration between SaaS applications many of your systems will be able to share information and work together.

Many thanks to Helene for sharing her knowledge with us. If you want to learn more, you can check out the TrackSmart blog or the Hello Scheduling blog.

As technology and the functions of human resources become more integrated, it’s important for us to understand the terminology. We have to make good decisions for our organizations on the right technology to accomplish our strategy, the most effective technology to buy, and the reasons why one technology solution is better than another. Knowing key technology terms is essential.

Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby


Quick Shots for #HR and #Business Pros – March 2015

March 27, 2015

Where has the year gone?! I feel like only yesterday I was putting away the holiday decorations and now it’s Spring!  Before I know it, I’ll be looking for 2016 Planners. The good news is with Spring comes some great HR events. I’m so looking forward to some travel! Next week, I will be attending […]

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Finding the Right Companies to Benchmark

March 26, 2015

It seems like a simple enough question. “What companies should we benchmark ourselves against?” The question was asked in a Facebook group I belong to. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Benchmarking is the process of comparing something (i.e. process, performance) against what someone else does. The process of choosing that “someone else” […]

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What Do You Want To Be Known For

March 24, 2015

I found this website recently. It’s a memorial to all of the products and projects that Google has abandoned over the years. While the site is in French, you immediately understand the point without even looking for the translate button. I think this Google Memorial site has become popular given the recent speculation about the […]

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Are You Keeping Up With the Speed of Technology

March 22, 2015

There’s lots of talk about skills gaps in the workforce. Today I want to talk about one specific skills gap – digital. I ran across this very good article on the Undercover Recruiter blog discussing some of the strategies we need to employ to bridge the digital skills gap. It’s worth a read. Technology is […]

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Managing Your Priorities – Friday Distraction

March 20, 2015

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from our friends at Kronos, the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud. Kronos recently announced a partnership with SuccessFactors to bring HCM cloud solutions to small and midsize businesses. You can check out the details here. Enjoy the post!) Sometimes the activities we can do the […]

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