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If meetings could kill….

….we all would be dead and not needing to read this any further. All professionals have died a thousand deaths at the hands of some long drawn unproductive meetings that could have just got over in a couple of minutes. Even worse, they needn’t have happened in the first place. Workplaces are infested with such meetings constantly leaving one to wonder whether meetings should be a way a life for an executive.

Why meetings?

Fundamentally, meetings are a part and parcel of working life. Research proves that on an average, a senior manager spends approximately 23 hours per week either preparing for, attending or following up on meetings. In a survey of 1,900 business leaders, almost 72% reported spending more time in meetings than they did five years ago. In addition, more than 49% surveyed expected to be spending even more time in meetings in the future. Why do we need to have some form of meetings as a part of our weekly schedule?

Peter Drucker had once opined, “We meet because the knowledge and experience needed in a specific situation are not available in one head, but have to be pieced together out of the knowledge and experience of several people." A need to create a think tank can prompt people to conduct regular meetings. Besides meetings can be a great source to build networks within the company and get a clear view of how various departments and teams are surging towards a common goal.


How do you make meetings meaningful?

Diagnose the organizational meeting culture.

Your meeting culture may be facing serious issues if:
  • Most of your people join meetings late, excuse themselves out of them frequently or stay away completely
  • Most members engage with iPad, cell phones and laptops more than necessary during meetings.
  • Lot of irrelevant, off-track and multiple discussions hijack the meeting agenda.
  • Specific members becoming a target of ridicule, bullying and sarcasm

Such occurrences demand immediate addressing and intervention.

Focus on conducting CRISP meetings

  • C: Chair the meeting with energy, enthusiasm and goal clarity.
  • R: Reward serious attendees and struggling problem solvers with reasonable solutions
  • I: Involve and engage attendees by encouraging contradictory views and helping the team develop better Listening skills.
  • S: Specify a realistic agenda and follow it up.
  • P: Plan a meeting thoroughly in terms of desired outcomes, start time and end time.

Differentiate between Tactical meetings that should be frequent, short and focusing operational issues and problem solving and Strategic Meetings that can run for hours, should not be held for more than once a quarter and are mostly single point agenda driven, for example developing a branding strategy, product innovation.

Develop a sound structure for Follow-up. Make the assignment of tasks, responsibilities and action points a part of the minutes of the meeting and ensure that you follow them up to the last word.

Develop some metrics to measure meeting effectiveness perceptions. Create some kind of feedback mechanism from serious attendees, keep a tab of intention-action gap after meetings, and listen to people and what they have to say most meetings.

To sum up, in spite of all technological advances, face to face meetings are here to stay. As Benjamin Franklin sums it up beautifully for us, "We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall hang separately." Meetings are a great vehicle to hang together and create productive and engaging work places.

References

  1. Rogelberg, S. G., Leach, D. J., Wair, P. B., & Burnfield, J. L. (2006). "Not another meeting!" Are meeting time demands related to employee well-being? Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(1), 83-97.
  2. Romano, N. C., & Nunamaker, J. F. 2001. Meeting analysis: Findings from research and practice. Paper presented at the Proceedings of 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.
  3. Drucker, P.F. (1967), The Effective Executive, Harper & Row, New York, NY
  4. Lencioni, P.M. (2010). Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business, John Wiley and Sons 
Dr. Deepika Dabke (Dec. 2014)

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