The following piece is not out of a Management Textbook, but rather the result of the cumulative years of experience of a few consultants working with companies trying to improve their work practices
“Meetings Bloody Meetings.”
We are amazed at the number of meetings our clients must attend daily. We see them go out of one meeting and going directly into the next. We always wondered when they are doing their daily work responsibilities. I don’t think we need to say more about this other than if we could find a magic wand that could reduce the daily meeting program it would be a major win-win for all involved.
Wrong people attending
Waste of time for most attendees and many will have to revisit it
Poor stakeholder analysis and sometimes not reaching out to other departments
Too many people attending
Too many interruptions and focus is poor during meeting activities
Habit of inviting “everyone’ instead of identifying the appropriate information sources per situation
No lead person or facilitator
Need someone that knows how to run a meeting professionally
No facilitation available when we really need problem solving facilitators.
Too many meetings
Attendees are tired, resentful, forgetful, overworked and stressed.
Company meeting protocols are out of date. There are other ways of collaborating than simply having a meeting
Meetings running over time
Late for next meeting and rushing decisions without recording meeting actions
Someone, preferably a facilitator to conduct and control the meeting. Also a new meeting protocol is needed.
The conclusion we draw based on the responses in the above table, is that the negative effects and meeting fatigue add costs to the bottom line. Not only that, but it also detracts from the motivation and effectiveness of your best people, because they are the people needed in most meetings. This situation cannot be good for any organization’s productivity, which adds further costs to operations.
If you look at the “Underlying Reasons” column you will notice that most of the meeting problem could be resolved by addressing three issues:
· Use of a facilitator,
· Invite the correct people to each meeting
· Use more modern meeting protocols and technology
Our contention is that meetings are an everyday occurrence and if not managed professionally it could add “exponential invisible” costs to your company at a time when the companies cannot afford it. Therefore, doing a few things differently to fix this situation should be relatively easy and hugely effective.
Client Success Story
An international medical equipment company could not understand why their staff complained about company working conditions. All the “exit” interviews confirmed that most employees resigned, because they found the company working culture punishing. When we got involved, we could not talk to the staff that resigned, but set out to investigate why the current staff were complaining about working conditions.
We started with the “working conditions” statement and asked for examples. More than 80% of the examples cited were meeting related. We went deeper and got our interviewees to give us what they thought were wrong with the meetings, which represented most of the items listed earlier.
We requested management to help us with realistic and workable solutions to address the listed examples. Eventually a joint team of managers and specialists created a new set of meeting protocols. After six months our sponsor reported back that the number of face-to-face meetings had dropped by 40% and meetings were lasting less than 45min. Our sponsor also reported that the general feedback from the previously abused specialists were very positive.