Martin Haworth discusses how to spot bad meetings and
things you can do to get them back on track. Learn about
the components that make meetings less productive and how
to take corrective action.
Terrible Meetings - Ten Ways to Spot Them
Meetings are valuable components of organisations. Yet they need
process, discipline and leadership/facilitation to work best.
Working at getting them right is one of the most value-creating
activities any organisation can embark on. But it doesn't always
work that way...
Sometimes, better than giving advice about
how to run things well, it can be useful to have a hit list
to notice to help you identify when things are less than
productive. Meetings can be hugely productive, especially
if you keep a sharp eye out for these Ten things:
When there is no agenda, there is no opportunity to prepare,
no framework for the meeting and no purpose. When this happens
a lot, there is a tendency for 5 below.
Wrong people there
Ever been to a meeting where there was no logical purpose
for you to be there? Meeting time is valuable and it is
important for efficiency and effectiveness that as few people
attend as purposeful. People should appreciate that non-attendance
at a particular meeting is OK and get used to it.
Those times when you sit in a meeting and watch your life
slip away, are those that happened with poor meeting management.
There is nothing worse than unkept promises (and meetings
are just that - a contract to the participants time) and
must be honoured. Everyone has a role here.
Many meeting participants do not know how to behave. These
are things about them and their ego, lack of self-confidence
and poor behaviours (out side the meeting too). Lack of
courtesy, understanding and space for others to say their
piece is inexcusable and not constructive for the outcome
The Leader Leads
Here the meeting is at the beck and call of the leader
or chair who really is holding court for themselves. This
sort of meeting is about them showing that they are democratic,
but they are nothing of the sort. This is a rubber-stamping
meeting and is of little or no value
The Leader Doesn't Lead
Here there is free-for-all, with no leadership from the
chair. Poor behaviours, timekeeping and outcomes riddle
this sort of meeting, with and end no-result and frayed-tempered,
Too hot, too cold, no water, no breaks, too big, too small.
Have you ever been in one of those meetings? And aren't
they awful, so awful in fact that you can't do your best.
This is a meeting where the organisers do not respect the
A lovely chat, a few disagreements and 'see you next month'.
This is the nice-to-have meeting which does nothing and
goes nowhere. As Peter Drucker said, 'Meetings are a symptom
of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better'
With an agenda, people know what the meeting will be about
- or will they. Even with the best agenda'd meeting weak
processes tend to leave to new issues, side-tracking and
wasted time. This is solvable with effort from the facilitator
No Review and Growth
Meetings come and go and are always awful. They are unproductive,
boring, overrun and people are there who shouldn't be. If
there is no review of just how good or bad the meeting has
been, there will be no improvement. The leader/facilitator
can add in meeting feedback as the first agenda item and
stick to it - tough at first but gets easier.
Step by step, you can work, with a facilitator or not, to
unravel just what needs to change. You will make a big difference,
not only to meetings and how productive they are, but also
to your capacity to build great relationships with the people
who show up.
About the Author
© 2005 Martin Haworth is a business and management
Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business
owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds
of hints, tips and ideas at his website, www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com.
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