Recently, I saw a poster with this observation: “Meetings: ‘None of us is as dumb as all of us…”. While it is meant to be humorous, the underlying sentiment about meetings is very serious. Meetings have a very bad reputation!
“31 Lost Hours per Month.”
One of the biggest complaints in most organizations is meetings–they waste too much time. Although many of us complain about meetings, we can all expect to spend a lot of time in them. Most professionals attend a total of 61.8 meetings per month and research indicates that over 50 percent of this meeting time is wasted Assuming each of these meetings is one hour long, professionals lose 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. Considering these statistics, it’s no surprise that meetings have such a bad reputation.
Boring or Energizing?
It’s not hard to come up with adjectives to describe how we feel when we attend a “bad”, meeting. On the other hand, most of us would agree that we leave “good” meetings feeling energized because we have been involved in the discussions and are now committed to doing our part to help address the challenges that have to be addressed.
3 Steps to Make them Better?
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a district leadership team in the Chicago area to find ways for making their meetings more productive and efficient. The team, familiar with rational processes through TregoED, was determined to use those processes to make their meetings more productive. They agreed to take the following actions to improve their meetings:
1. Establish Objectives: By starting all meetings with a list of specific objectives, everyone will be focused upon the purpose of that meeting. Sending everyone a list of objectives ahead of time gives them the opportunity to reflect on the issues and come prepared to contribute.
2. Use a Rational Process to Keep on Track: Once the objective was set, they used a strategy that coincided with that objective. For example, if the purpose of the meeting was to
- Understand the issues about an item—they would use Kepner-Tregoe’s Situation Appraisal
- Determine a course of action—Decision Analysis
- Implement Plans–Potential Problem Analysis
Having specific decision-making and problem solving strategies can help any organization stay focused on their objectives and determine a plan of action.
3. Make Visible Information and Communication: Writing important information on a whiteboard or flip chart concentrates attention on the information and data under discussion. Repetition is reduced, and assumptions are made visible and tested. In addition, writing things down ensures better follow-up and record keeping; there is less chance for something to be left out inadvertently.
How do you make your meetings more productive? Please share your comments about how your organization has been able to improve the quality and effectiveness of your meetings. If we are going to be attending 61.8 meetings per month, we need all the help we can find!!!