Think Your Meetings Stink?

It is possible that no other topic gets more air time in management journals, newspapers, and business school classrooms than “effective meeting management”, and here’s another example from The Wall Street Journal reporting on “stand-up meetings”.  There’s a tsunami of theory, conjecture, assumptions, and assertions on how to conduct better meetings!  Is it possible that poor meetings are simply the reflection of the irrelevance, the lack of maturity and/or the willingness to waste time of the meeting participants?  If you are asked to attend or are attending a bad meeting, well, then, change its course or leave!

Do not even attend a meeting when:

  1. You have not received an agenda beforehand.  Do not hesitate to ask for one!
  2. There are more than 10 invitees (with exception).  Rarely, should there be more than 1 person representing a function, and I am having a hard time thinking of 10 functions in any one organization.  If there is more than one representative invited from a specific function, then the reason should be readily apparent otherwise somebody’s time is being wasted.

Leave a meeting when:

  1. It has not started after 10 minutes.
  2. You find that you have nothing to contribute.  Warning signs may include: 1) blank note paper except doodles and unrelated rants, 2) a strong desire to fall asleep, 3) a desire to check and respond to text messages, and 4) words are not coming out of your mouth.
  3. The agenda is not followed, and there are no decisions or action steps to be taken.
  4.  Attendees have their laptops open.  This means that the meeting is really not that important enough to pay full attention.

Before leaving a meeting, though, HRInsights recommends that you excuse yourself, and indicate in polite terms why you are leaving.  It is possible that there has been a miscommunication or a disconnection that the meeting leader should have the chance to address and correct.  If there is no “push-back”, that’s your license to head off to something more productive.

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