Faraday discovered that managing meetings in a different way benefited its business. Anthony Landale reports

Imagine you have a flight to catch and that you need to get core topics discussed and decisions made in half an hour. That was the scenario set for Lloyd's insurer Faraday. Under its existing system of holding meetings there wasn't much hope of getting everyone into the meeting, let alone catching a flight.

Faraday meetings were timeless, set-piece and agenda driven. Much time and effort was dissipated in meetings that produced plenty of discussion, but contributed little benefit to the company.

So meetings, the managing director decided, were taking too much time and could be streamlined to make more impact and add more value to the business. As a result the company decided to tackle the issue head on.

Faraday was determined to cut the amount of management time tied up in meetings. It suspected it could make significant savings by altering the structure of meetings.

Hard targets were set. It was agreed that 25% fewer man hours should be spent in meetings across the organisation, 100% of meetings should start on time and 75% should finish early. Such targets committed the company to achieving success.

With strong and decisive leadership, these figures gave Faraday's managers a clear view of what was required and a way to measure their success.

As a result, managers and teams radically overhauled their approach. Where possible, they reduced the amount of meetings held; many weekly meetings were rescheduled to a fortnightly basis and all meetings were kept short and to the point.

Furthermore, only those people who were essential to each meeting were invited to participate. For the first time in a long while managers saw a way to take back control of their meetings schedule, rather than feeling that their meetings rota was controlling them.

The outcome was summed up by Faraday claims director Gary Bass. He says: "Regaining control of their schedules has certainly relieved pressure on managers, but the key issue for us is how to make meetings add value to ongoing projects. This was the great prize.

"We have become far more proactive and drive our meetings much harder in order to get the results we want," he says.

Faraday's partner in the meetings initiative was performance training company STC. According to STC managing director Rob Cram, the way a manager drives a meeting is critical to the outcome.

"If you focus intensely then have no doubt you'll cover all the ground. This is the 21st century approach to meetings. Old style meetings are run through passive agendas," he says.

Further information from STC on 020 8993 6663 or visit
www.stirlingtraining.co.uk