December 11, 2020

The Common Denominator Across All the Waste-of-Time Meetings You're In? You.

The common root cause across all those lousy meetings you find yourself in is not...the lack of a stated meeting purpose.

It is not the lack of an agenda.

It is not that the right attendees are not present for the discussion.

It is not the lack of a clear DACI.

It's not any of that.

I mean, all those missing pieces could be problems. But none of those are the common root cause across all the bad meetings you are in.

The common denominator is you.

You won't like it, but here's the unvarnished truth: the meetings you are in are a waste of time because you are allowing people to waste your time.

Or you can continue to do nothing and just "curse the darkness." But frankly, that seems kind of weird given the pocketful of candles you are sitting on.

Here are just some of the steps you could be taking to ensure the meeting is valuable for you:

• You could call the organizer and ensure your presence is an important input to the meeting  

• You could be less concerned about being seen, skip a meeting you are not needed in, and go work on something that would put some real points on the board

• You could ask the meeting organizer for the results desired from meeting...either before the meeting or at the beginning of the meeting

• You could ask for clarification on whether the meeting is for 1) discussion or decision making purposes, and 2) what the decision process will be (e.g., DACI)

• When the meeting gets off the agenda…with conflict, data-free opinions, red-hot emotions, someone trying to "hold court"... you could stop being a bystander, doing nothing and pretending it is not your time that is being wasted, and instead say something to facilitate/help

• You could ask for clarity on action items/owners and/or next steps at the end of a discussion or meeting

• You could send the organizer feedback as to what you loved about the meeting and what would have made the meeting even more effective for you

I hear you howling out there: "If the meeting organizers would just do their jobs, I wouldn't have to do any of these things." I hear ya. But they aren't. And smart money says they aren't going to change any time soon.

I am not suggesting you become the Corporate Meeting Monitor. But since you feel it's your time that is being wasted, I am suggesting you take responsibility for some stone simple steps you can take to ensure your time is better spent.

Or you can continue to do nothing and just "curse the darkness." But frankly, that seems kind of weird given the pocketful of candles you are sitting on.

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.

This blog post might also be of interest: Lousy Meetings are a "System" Problem.

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