In some cases the above quote is very true. In other cases not true at all. But, if we were to honestly reflect on the meetings that happen in our organization, what can be learned?
When people are in a position of holding the time of others, how do they ensure they use it wisely to honor those who provided them with their presence?
Is the air filled with an endless stream of words as there are so many important things to say?
Or, has the person in charge of the meeting consciously chosen to be as precise as possible in their language to allow time for other voices to be heard?
Meetings are important. In fact, they are critical to the success of any organization. Professional gatherings such as this are a chance to share information vital to helping the organization run as efficiently as possible.
As important as meetings are, how impactful are they and what does the research show in regards to the effectiveness of meetings in general?
The Harvard Business Review set out to find these answers and this is what they came up with.
“We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.”
As the data shown above is based on the perspective of leadership, how might other people in the organization feel about meetings? Chances are the people who fall below leadership in the hierarchical structure of the organization feel the same or have an even harsher view of the effectiveness of meetings.
As well, based on the research, the general consensus seems to indicate that meetings are often poorly timed, badly run, or both.
So, whose feet need to be held to the fire here? Who should be accountable for meetings being run in a different way- a way that honors each stakeholder in the organization?
Dysfunctional meetings hurt morale, lower motivation, and tune people out. If you are a leader reading this, what is your role in this and what might be done to ensure that people walk out of meetings feeling uplifted, inspired, informed, and knowing next steps?
As well, how do the leaders in an organization hold each other accountable for ensuring that all meetings are run using productive and impactful structures and routines?
Here are a couple of ideas to consider if you haven't tried them out before.
Exit Ticket FEEDBACK!!
The first thing that can and should be done is to make it common practice to seek feedback about the effectiveness of meetings.
Asking people’s opinions and getting them to share their suggestions and ideas with regularity builds deep trust and fosters respect.
This type of feedback should be used with all meetings, especially after senior leadership meetings. Leaders providing important feedback to other leaders in the organization is powerful and models, from the top, what is expected of each other.
Doing so provides the seeds for consistent growth and building a culture that emphasizes that what people think truly matters.
This can be done with using two-colored sticky notes. Any meeting participants fill out the sticky notes and leave them on the door or wall on the way out. Easy!
The facilitator of the meeting has immediate data to act on next time around. This is a very useful strategy when implemented with consistency.
The Use of Protocols
The consistent use of protocols not only helps to facilitate people’s thinking, it equalizes voice in meetings and also provides a sound structure for getting the group to think more critically when it comes to making important decisions that will impact the organization.
As well, protocols allow for people to be more innovative, creative, and to think more deeply about possible initiatives to help move the organization forward in highly productive ways.
Organizational vision does not always have to be top down. By creating protocols that allow for the wisdom and insight of all stakeholders to be heard, leaders encourage opportunities for vision to be cascaded up through the organization.
This not only empowers people within the organization to take responsibility, it also creates a much deeper sense that 'this is our vision' not just, this is 'their vision'.
If feedback within an organization indicates that meetings are run with great efficiency and impact, hats off to leadership. They are doing a wonderful job and I hope they keep it up.
However, if everyone in the organization knows there is room for improvement and they choose to do nothing and accept the norm, nothing will ever change.
Imagine the true impact that wasted time has on long-term productivity within the organization. So much time is lost through poorly run meetings.
I hope this post challenges any leader to better think their way through how they can refine their meetings. This not only honors time, but creates even more time to do much deeper, more impactful work in their organization.
Please share any ideas in the comment box below that you've implemented to make meetings more productive in your own workplace.
Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.