All the Euros spent aren’t worth the same

In many organizations, we have been told to be cost-efficient and profitable, but somehow it affects only some of our actions.

After the beginning of the year with COVID-19, the rest of 2020 will require tighter cost control in many companies. As always, there are many ways to control outgoing money, some being out of the reach of all the employees, but some being in the reach of every knowledge worker. While most of us have experienced travel bans and frozen development projects, it’s not that often that organizations consider their ways of working as something that could bring savings.

Appreciate your colleague

It seems to be easier to say it’s not allowed to buy online training costing 500 € but it’s perfectly fine to send an invitation to an hour-long meeting with more than 10 persons, without a set agenda, goals, or even just with the comment “let’s discuss this and that” without any preparation.

Or to send “FYI, just in case, a wall of text” -type of email to 500 people. Even if the reading time is only 3 minutes, and even if only half of the audience will read it, it’s still 750 minutes for “just in case”. And you can do the math with the rest.

Some say there can never be enough communications. But it is as important that you choose the right channel and audience to broadcast the message you have.

I consider email and meeting culture as a reflection of company culture and a sign of how much you appreciate your colleague’s work, time, and effort. Meeting requests without agenda or target are assumptions from the sender that the receiver can give that amount of time to someone else, without any questions. If you’re requesting to use someone’s brainpower and time, be polite enough at least to inform them why.

Focus on organizational accomplishments, not yourself

Different cultures promote different kinds of behavior. Some cultures seem to acquire large amounts of self-promotion. The assumption seems to be the wider audience you have the better chance the person has to get acknowledged. There’s nothing wrong that you keep the spotlight on your project and accomplishments. But if it means you’re sending an email to all or half of the company, you might want to reconsider.

You might not want to appear to be a shameless self-promoter, nor getting the stamp of being an organization’s time consumer.’s career site advises that the key to differentiating between the two is your intention: The best people focus on departmental accomplishments, not themselves. How and where a person gains visibility makes all the difference how the person has been seen.

Sending an email to the whole unit or company is no longer cool, yet using for example Microsoft Teams to let people know about it, might be more sensible.

Without decent guidelines and incentives you’ll get nothing

In my article about acknowledging people who are better than you, I talked about the HRIS project where HR representatives told how people won’t be filling their competences voluntarily. Without a reasonable “WHY” people rarely do anything. Simon Sinek’s “Start with why” can sum the purpose as follows:

Why: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do. This isn’t about running a profitable company—that’s a result. Why is all about your purpose. 

If you can give the purpose of behavior or way of working and then on top of it measure it, you’ll most likely get some results out of it.

Cost-efficiency apps

It’s not only adding the agenda to your invitation that increases the efficiency of the meeting. You also need to have a habit of running the meetings as planned and not getting stranded by spin-offs.

For some added structure will surface a feeling of being less creative and for some, it will bring needed discipline to work. That’s why you need to make a decision also what kind of subjects require different approaches. If meetings are invited and planned with purpose and target in mind, I claim there will be more and better decisions made and plans to present, as well as happier people at work.

I hope I’m not the only one who doesn’t get some of the decisions making processes companies have. Or the ways to increase their effectiveness or profitability.

I wonder and hope secretly that someone has already created a calendar addition where in short the admin could insert either national average hourly salary or company average hourly salary. The pop-up would annoy the sender every time they’d have more than 10 recipients by estimating the average reading time or meeting duration telling the minimum cost of your email or invitation and suggesting either to rethink the channel or group size.

If you know someone has designed or done that app, let me know. I’d definitely like to try it 🙂

What can I do to be more colleague friendly and more cost-aware

Before sending that invitation or email ask:

  • What is the problem or information that I need or want to share and why?
  • What would be the most beneficial way or channel to approach this matter?
  • If you choose a meeting or email, why are you having this meeting? Sending this email? What is the added value of using this format?
  • What do I want from this meeting/email? Target/goals?
  • How do I plan to achieve it? Agenda
  • What information is required to make a decision? Individually signed preliminary work, preparations
  • Who really needs to be invited? Who really needs to get this info? The key contributor and decision-makers for these subjects.
  • Are there people who could be informed about this? What would be the best way?
  • How to proceed after the meeting? Responsibilities, next steps, and communication

And If you ever catch me slipping out of my own task list, please let me know! I don’t want to be a horrible colleague.

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