Something that I used to hear regularly in the workplace was “I didn’t get anything done, I’ve been in meetings all day”. I always found that a little humorous since as mangers or leaders “meetings” are what we do. Still there is a difference between participating in a productive meeting and enduring one that is unproductive. Unfortunately unproductive meetings tend to outnumber productive ones in many organizations. Let’s take a look at why that is and what you can do to improve the situation for your organization.
The most painful and unproductive meeting I’ve ever experienced was the weekly shipments meeting. The meeting goal was to account for each of the hundreds of assemblies making their way through the manufacturing process. The cause of this wasteful ritual was a culture of micromanagement created by the executives in the organization. The meeting would routinely last three to four hours and was attended by all project and functional managers.
The meeting also required three to four hours of preparation. This one meeting consumed a full day each week of each PM and functional manager! This only added to an already chaotic environment where the PM’s were all managing multiple projects. Ironically almost all the information discussed during the meeting could have been easily gathered through email or a weekly status report. The meeting was completely unnecessary.
The shipments meeting also generated a high level of stress for the attendees, which played a significant role in the high turnover of PM’s experienced by that organization. I could discuss this and many other “fascinating” meetings (and will in future posts) but for now lets take a more positive turn. The following are some things that we could all do to spare our people from the bad meeting experience:
- Be sure there is no other way to get the information, answer the question, make the decision, before scheduling a meeting
- Invite only people who MUST be at the meeting to accomplish the meeting purpose
- Time-box the meeting, very few meetings need to run longer than two hours
- Have a very specific agenda and stick to it
The next time you attend a meeting take note of how much time each attendee is actively participating in the meeting. You’ll likely find that most attendees in a ninety-minute meeting actively contribute for a total of ten minutes or less. Do this at the next few meetings that you call. If you see the same thing in your meetings it’s time to rethink your approach. Work on your meeting structure and attendee list until you get to where most of your attendees are actively participating most of the time.
Please consider and share your thoughts on the following:
- Are your meetings always productive?
- What percentage of meetings that you attend is productive?
- How can you reduce the number of meetings that your people are required to attend?
©2016 Joseph T Drammissi