Are you one of the many that would rather visit the dentist’s office than sit through another business meeting? Does the Monday staff meeting, the Wednesday team meeting, and the quarterly company-wide business meeting zap your will to work for a living?
It doesn’t have to be this way.
It may not be the meeting that has you yanking hair out of your already thinning dome, but the way the meeting is run. Let us examine the reasons why so many people hate business meetings so completely.
Reasons The Business Meeting Hurts So Bad
How many of the following reasons do you identify with?
- No one is prepared.
- There are no action items.
- The wrong people are in the meeting; the right people are not.
- An email could suffice for the meeting.
- There is no agenda.
- The person who called the meeting is winging it.
- No one knows why they are there.
- We have had this exact same meeting twice before.
- No one knows what the outcome of the business meeting
- The meeting is a meeting about a future meeting.
- Attendees address anything, on topic or off.
- No one is truly candid.
Is it any wonder that business meeting resentment could easily become a new type of self-help meeting?
Transform your Business Meeting
Lencioni states, “As a business society, we’ve come to accept that meetings are unavoidably painful and unproductive-one of the necessary evils of organizational life. But the fact is, bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders. Worse yet, they take a more devastating toll on a company’s success than we realize.”
Lencioni has a solution that requires meetings follow a few basic guidelines.
Those who run meetings must understand that conflict is not necessarily a negative thing. The meeting leader needs to hold attention and elicit engagement. Therefore, the right issues (oftentimes the most controversial) should be discussed at the beginning. By requiring resolution of a controversial topic, business meetings create passionate, genuine, and provocative drama. No one will stare at the wall when drama is incorporated.
Context and Purpose
All attendees need to know the reason for the meeting, and what is expected of them. When this occurs, specific topics can be addressed. No more confusion, no more frustration. Is this a tactical or a strategic meeting? Attendees will know ahead of time and prepare accordingly, especially when the meeting leader demands resolution.
The meeting leader must convey to all attendees that meetings are extremely important. As Lenciomi states, “If you think about it, a leader who hates meetings is a lot like a surgeon who hates operating on people, or a symphony conductor who hates concerts. Meetings are what leaders do, and the solution to bad meetings is not the elimination of them, but rather the transformation of them into meaningful, engaging and relevant activities.”
Other Ideas to Improve a Business Meeting
The above ideas are schematic and do not do justice to ‘Death by Meetings’. If you don’t want to read the book, here are some ideas from another source which can help your meetings become more productive and less of a grind.
- Impose a weekly/monthly number and time limit on recurring meetings.
- Designate an entire day each week to be free of meetings.
- Conduct all meetings with an agenda.
- Race to Clarity
- Pull information from attendees, identify next actions and due dates, identify those responsible for next actions, and do so quickly.
- Summarize Meeting
- What was decided? Who has action items? When are they due? When is the next meeting?
The Business Meeting Is Not Going Anywhere
You can wish away meetings all you want, but they are here for the long run. Since you spend a significant amount of time in them, your time may be better used looking into how to improve rather than banish meetings.
Adjust your attitude, improve your meeting process, and be thankful that you are not the surgeon who hates operating on people.