Team meetings are a staple in most business environments. Some organizations have status meetings every day or multiple times a day. Others reserve team meetings for rare occasions when email or other tools cannot convey the information accurately. There are many advantages and disadvantages of meetings for small businesses. Meetings can help your company boost productivity, but they can also lead to frustration.

Pro: Making Decisions Faster

One of the key advantages of team meetings is that they can speed up the decision-making process. When all the important stakeholders are in the same room, it’s possible to resolve issues and ascertain the next steps quickly. When action items are brought up in meetings, they can be easily assigned to employees to ensure they are completed.

Pro: Clarifying Information and Staying Up to Date

One of the most important pros of team meetings is that they are great venues for updating colleagues on the progress of projects. If milestones are not being met, employees can stay informed and adjust schedules or deadlines accordingly. Meetings are also useful for clarifying information that may cause confusion. Instructions or findings may not be clear in written form, and meetings are the perfect place to ask questions, get more information and reduce misunderstandings.

Pro: Strengthening Team Bonds

In addition to being an important business activity, meetings also serve a social purpose. While the discussion may be around work, getting together with colleagues is an important bonding process. Interacting with their team helps employees to learn more about one another and establish bonds. This leads to creative ideas, innovative suggestions and better collaboration.

Con: Eating Up Too Much Time

For many employees, meetings can seem like a disruption in their workday. They take time away from an employee’s regular tasks. If the employee isn’t directly involved in the topic of the meeting, they may feel they are losing productivity by being there. In order to avoid this disadvantage, it’s important for businesses to teach employees about how to use meeting time wisely. Inviting only the required stakeholders and having an agenda helps employees to keep meetings productive.

Con: Going Off Track

The discussion in meetings can often go astray. The main topic can lead to a tangent which can lead to another path, resulting in a new discussion that is not related to the main reason for having the meeting. In order to ensure meetings are used for their intended purpose, it’s important to have a leader that is in charge of structuring the discussion, and pulling employees back to the main topic if they stray too far away.

Con: Creating Busywork

Developing action items is one of the pros of team meetings. However, on the flip side, meetings can sometimes create busywork for employees that may not be required to meet business goals. By over-complicating the process, employees may be asked to complete additional tasks that add to their busy day. Before assigning items during meetings, it’s important to take a step back to ensure that the task is required to meet the business’ targets.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Meetings

If you’re deciding whether or not to have a team meeting, review the advantages and disadvantages to ensure the meeting will help your employees achieve their goals. Sometimes, a quick instant message can accomplish everything that can be done in an hour-long meeting. Other times, a short stand-up meeting can save days of going back on forth over email.

When having a meeting, be sure to follow best practices by having an agenda and distributing it beforehand so attendees can come to the meeting prepared. Assign someone to take minutes and send them out after the meeting so everyone has a record of what was discussed. Keep the discussion on track and be sure to start and end the meeting on time.