Is this a good use of your time?

by | Nov 15, 2011 | Blog | 2 comments

“This meeting was a good use of my time.”

This statement has become one of my favorite survey questions, either to gather feedback about an event or to get reactions about a program or experience.

In an era where we’re so pressed for time, questions about time are a useful barometer to assess value. If people are willing to spend discretionary time doing something, that’s a great sign that they think it’s worth their while.

The statement about time is especially potent when combined with these two other declarations: “The meeting provided information that interested me.” and “The meeting provided information that is useful to my job.”

For example, in a recent survey with all three statements, results showed: 91% agreed that a conference call series was a good use of their time; 91% agreed that the series was useful to their job; and 97% found the series interesting.

These survey respondents have been thirsty for information so it wasn’t surprising that almost everyone ranked the content as interesting. However, it was reassuring that so many also found it useful and a good use of their time.

Thanks to the write-in questions asked in addition to these statements, we got some color commentary that shed light on potential actions to make the content even more useful and valuable for the time people are investing.

To me these questions show respect. That is, respect for individuals and how they decide to spend their valuable time.

Also, these questions acknowledge that individuals have choices, such as whether to attend your meeting or event and then whether to pay attention or to multi-task. These days, attendance at an event is a misleading metric. Instead, attention is more meaningful.

And last but not least, when these questions are asked inside organizations, the questions recognize that individuals should be viewed more as volunteers and less as employees who are forced into compliance. Individuals not only have choices, but also practice free will. You can’t expect people to do something or think certain ways just because a boss wants them to do so.

On the measurement front, there’s lots of interesting and useful work taking place. On Thursday, Nov. 17, at 9 am PT, David Youssefnia, PhD, president and founder of Critical Metrics, is joining me to talk about Measurement beyond engagement surveys. Please join us for what should be an interesting, provocative discussion. If you can’t make it, sign up anyway at so you can get access to the recording.

You can learn some tips from David. And we can find out what your favorite survey question or statement is these days, and why. Hope you’re willing to spend some time with us!


  1. Jamie Flinchbaugh

    I think that’s a very worthwhile question. Of course, like many questions, there are some subtle layers of interpretation that make a big difference. For starters, how do we define good use?

    If the purpose of the meeting was to get me educated on the topic that was important to the company but not important to me, it would still be a good use of my time but I would probably not rate it that way. This of course comes down to how aligned my objectives are to the company objectives. If we are not rowing in the same direction, then our definitions of what is a good use will diverge.

    Of course leaders still must make decisions that even if people do not value the meeting, if it’s the right thing to do then they must do the unpopular but right decision.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh

  2. Liz Guthridge

    Thanks, Jamie. Your comments show why I like to combine the question about “good use of your time” with these two other questions: “The meeting provided information that interested me” and “The meeting provided information that is useful to my job.” Ideally, you want high scores in all three. Yet, as you pointed out, the content may be interesting yet not useful to someone’s job—“yet” we hope. And if the scores are low, you need to revisit whether you’ve presenting important information in a way that resonates with your stakeholders. It may be time to put yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes!

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