January 11, 2021

Face It: You Don't Care Whether Your Meetings are Effective or Not

A bit presumptuous, but I'll back it up.

I previously posted an article on the "system" problem locking lousy meetings in place.

One set of "players" in that system are the meeting organizers. Maybe that is you.

You know what the meeting best practices are. Everyone does. It is not like they are some well kept corporate secret known only to HR.

But neither you nor other organizers practice them with any kind of consistency.

Why not?

Try saying it out loud: "No matter what I think or say, my actions indicate I really don't care whether my meetings are effective or not."

There are multiple reasons but the bottom line is in the title of this post. You don't care whether your meetings are effective nor whether others think your meetings are a good use of time.

I said I would prove it.

Here are five questions; see how many you can say 'yes' to:

  1. Do you consistently ask attendees to provide feedback on the effectiveness of your meetings either face-to-face or with an anonymous assessment? [Wouldn't someone who cared about whether their meetings were useful for the people who attended ask them?]
  2. Do you have and do you follow a Meeting Best Practices Checklist close to 100% of the time? [If an airline pilot only used a pre-flight checklist at the same rate you use a Meetings Best Practices checklist, would you believe s/he cared about safety or not?]
  3. Despite all of your budget (hourly rate of attendees times hours spent) that gets burned in your meetings, do you carve out time each week or even each month to reflect on the meeting effectiveness…what was an effective use of resources, what could have been better? [Could you and your team be 10% more productive with more effective meetings? Know any athletes or coaches who are improving without reviewing their own performance all the time?]
  4. Do you look at the meetings you have coming up in the next week and ensure the right people are coming, the purpose and agenda have been communicated, and the support materials have been sent out? [Can your execution...your personal and team productivity...really be optimal if no planning goes into it?]
  5. Do you have a plan or even a specific objective for how your meetings are going to be better six months from now? [Meetings are the engine for accomplishing a significant percentage of the outputs you are responsible for. What does it say to not have a plan to improve the engine?]

Can't say yes to all five? How about two? If you cared about meeting effectiveness, team productivity, and how you were using others' time, wouldn't you be able to say 'yes' to a couple of those questions?

Not likely to change until you face it. So try saying this out loud: "No matter what I think or say, my actions indicate I really don't care whether my meetings are effective or not."

Ouch. That can't feel good.

If you don't like how that sounds, it's not hard to fix.

It's as easy as 1-2-3, without the two and the three. Just move the needle on any of those five questions.

Dennis Adsit, Ph.D. is the President of Adsum Insights and designer of The “Me” in Meetings™ a short, no-nonsense training course for leaders or organizations who are sick and tired of living with the lost productivity and complaints about ineffective meetings.

Here are some other articles on the ineffective meeting problem you might find of interest:

Lousy Meetings are a "System" Problem

The Common Denominator Across All "Waste-of-Time" Meetings You Are In? You.

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