We've Gotta Stop Meeting Like This!

November 04, 2015 4:30 PM | Anonymous member

A Blast from the Discovery Past

We've Gotta Stop Meeting Like This!

Submitted by Victor Gray
May 1993



Recently, I overheard an executive of a well-known company complain that his full management staff was never available for a meeting.  One of the attendees stated, “We don’t mind meeting, but we didn’t know that today was the day.  If you don’t let us know in advance, we might not be able to make it!”

Meetings fail for a number of reasons:

  1. Lack of objectives.  Stating the purpose of the meeting and what’s to be accomplished is helpful in planning the meeting; it’s also critical when the attendees need to “buy into” the agenda items.
  2. Lack of an agenda.  My executive friend proved that without advance notification as to the date, time and place, poor meeting attendance may be the result.  Participants want to know if the meeting is relevant to them.  Give them an opportunity to be involved in setting the agenda.
  3. Lack of planning.  Poor planning usually results in poor meetings.  If you want better meetings, proper planning is essential.
  4. Wrong people.  Make sure the people attending are the ones who need to be there.  Let guest speakers be first on the agenda.  Exits from the meeting attendance should be offered when the assignment to the group has ended.  Most people won’t argue about attending one less meeting.
  5. Failure to start and end on time.  If you don’t start your meeting as scheduled there is no incentive to be on time.  Furthermore, the individuals who arrive on time are punished by having to wait or stay later for those who arrive late.  Get a reputation for starting and ending on time.
  6. Allowing interruptions.  Beepers that go off, and participants who are called out of the meeting interrupt the desired activity.  When possible, ask participants to check their beepers at the door and be interrupted only in the case of an emergency.
  7. Failure to follow up.  It is important to check that agreed-upon assignments outside the meeting take place in a timely manner.  Having an “open door policy” isn’t always enough.  Subordinates may benefit from some encouragement, assistance or correction.  A smart leader will look for the things that people are doing right and provide some praise.
  8. Failure to regularly critique meetings.  Meetings should be evaluated on a periodic basis.  Do the attendees still agree that the objectives represent what we are trying to accomplish?  Have we obtained feedback on the agenda regularly?  Are the right people in attendance?  If you stopped having the meeting would anybody miss it?

I’ve heard that my executive friend has identified dates that his staff could meet.  He also issued an agenda.  His meeting problems have been solved.  Have you solved your meeting problems?


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