Ineffective Meetings at Work!

Dear Geese:

This is so sad it’s almost comical. We have too many meetings at my company. Why, we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t even make a decision without having a meeting. But the bigger problem is how poorly these meetings are run. They are unorganized; people who need to be there aren't there, and they constantly run over time…as if we have nothing else better to do.

Can you tell I’m frustrated? Any suggestions would be greatly be appreciated!

-Sam from D.C.

Hey Sam.

Thanks for your question.

Rest assured you’re not alone on these complaints. According to researcher Shirley Fine Lee, 49% of meeting attenders surveyed considered unfocused meetings as the biggest workplace time waster and the primary reason for unproductive workdays. Wait, there’s more. Executives (on average) spend 40-50% of their working hours in meetings and it’s estimated that as many as 50% of those meetings are unproductive and poorly run. In fact, a Fortune 50 company estimates losses in excess of $75 million per year due to ineffective meetings. Need I go on?

But clearly you are not asking me to provide the tenants of an effectively run meeting in this blog. Instead you’re asking how to stop the bleeding of meeting mania.

The good news is that I have a very simple solution to help address and resolve your company’s meeting dilemma. First, let me just mention that for those of you readers who would like more information on the ABC’s of effective meeting, you can read my article Meeting Management: Let’s Cut to the Chase by Clicking Here.

For the rest of you, the first and most important step in changing the meeting culture at your company is to make sure each meeting gets evaluated from this point forward. And no, I’m not talking about a written evaluation that people fill out at the end of the meeting. I’m talking about an actual verbal evaluation that takes place the last 5-minutes of every meeting.

Here is how it would work. Before the end of each meeting, the meeting facilitator/leader has the responsibility to pose the following three discussion questions to the meeting participants. As mentioned, this only take 5-minutes or less, so don’t panic. You’ll quickly make up the time as your meetings get more and more efficient.

Three questions:

1.     What did we do well in this meeting?

2.     Where could we improve?

3.     What could I (the facilitator) do to help make this happen?

Notice the first two questions imply that all the meeting participants are responsible for holding an effective meeting, not just the meeting facilitator. The third question, however, is designed to give the meeting facilitator direct feedback and/or useful suggestions for the next meeting. This way all responsible parties have a role in making future meetings efficient and effective.

This process enables your company to constructively evaluate each meeting and make whatever changes necessary to ensure you are utilizing people’s time and company resources in the most efficient manner possible.

So put this idea as an agenda item at your next meeting and make it happen.


Greg "Geese" Giesen



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