Meetings, like death and taxes, are an inevitable fact of business life. Many, unfortunately, turn out to be a huge waste of time. Instead of generating ideas, engagement and commitment, meetings often zap team members’ energy, replacing it with apathy and boredom.
In the work I do, I hear the complaints from people working in a variety of businesses. It’s a constant source of frustration for people.
Meetings become counterproductive when they lose focus, go on too long, dilute authority, diffuse responsibility and delay decisions. Routinely referring a matter to a meeting may satisfy those who are cautious and analytical, but this bad habit frustrates action-oriented risk takers.
Humans are a social species, and meetings fulfill an innate need. Loyalty increases when we participate in teams and meetings—as long as we perceive them to have purpose, value and meaning.
What can you do to ensure your meetings are productive and useful—not just socially satisfying?
- A meeting defines the team, group or department. It specifies a purpose, outlines steps to achieve goals and identifies desired outcomes. Attendees gain a sense of identity and belonging.
- Participants share knowledge, add to each other’s experiences, and pool their strengths to produce better ideas and plans.
- A focused, productive meeting affirms participants’ commitment to decisions and objectives. Such meetings set the stage for accountability plans. Well-prepared leaders are catalysts for engagement, energy and enthusiasm.
- Meetings pose opportunities for team members and leaders to demonstrate strengths, talents and collaborative abilities.
Most meetings will fall into one of these four categories of functions. If you aren’t clear about why you’re meeting, perhaps it’s time to get focused and purposeful. Don’t assume that gathering everyone in a room for a meeting will solve problems and issues.
Unless you know what you want to accomplish and set a clear agenda, you risk wasting everyone’s time and causing more problems than you solve.
What’s your opinion? How effective are the meetings in your company? I’d love to hear from you.