How much time did you spend this week in ‘a meeting’? More importantly, how much time did you spend in those meetings wishing you were somewhere else ‘getting on with my job’. I often hear ‘we waste a lot of time attending meetings’ from individuals in all levels of organisations, in all sectors. (In fact research by Bain & Co suggests that 15 per cent of collective work time is now spent in meetings(*1))
But imagine a working world without ‘meetings’ (it may seem like Utopia momentarily!). Decisions would be made without collaboration, ideas couldn’t be collectively shared and debated instantly, perspective and input would be reliant on other communication channels like email .. Doesn’t seem so appealing after all does it?
The much maligned Meeting has fallen fowl of ‘bad apple’ syndrome… We’ve all experienced toe-curlingly purposeless meetings, with no clear agenda, no clear definition of outcomes, where we’re unclear on the perspective or role we’re being involved to represent (but taking that bad apple impact into every meeting is a bit like stating ‘I hate movies’ based on watching the ‘Baywatch’ movie)
What if we changed the language from ‘I’m going to a results Meeting’ to ‘I’m collaborating with colleagues and experts to review our performance and set new objectives’?
Harvard Business Review quoted this month(*2) that ‘High performing leadership teams spend nearly 20% more time than low-performing teams defining strategy’ … pretty sure that isn’t happening over email or in siloes – there’s some good quality collaborative discussions (or ‘meetings’) in the mix!
Let’s not let one ‘bad apple’ of a poor meeting experience colour our expectation – we are all time poor, and we need to take ownership to raise the bar on quality of meetings, one meeting invitation at a time
Start by asking ‘what’s it for?’, ‘why am I requested to attend?’, ‘what will be the outcome?’ … and don’t be afraid to decline the invitation if the answers don’t float your boat
Facilitation of great meetings is a real skill set that often gets confused with the role of the chair. More and more businesses are looking to our Team Coaches to guide and corral the agenda and the participants – to ensure share of voice, clarity of purpose, focus on outcomes, and energising collaborative discussions. We’re in our 6th year of facilitating meetings three times a year for global marketing experts – both virtually and face to face. This investment is repaid by the level of great output and commitment to action that sets the business agenda for the year – as well as providing an engaging and informative experience for the participants
Meetings aren’t the enemy of time – but bad meetings are the enemy of time AND performance
Book suggestion: We’ve got to start meeting like this! – Dana Wright
*2 Harvard Business Review quoting ‘How the most successful teams bridge the strategy-execution gap’ by Nathan Wiita and Orla Leonard