Why Are There So Many Meetings?
Meetings are traditionally used as a method to share information, brainstorm on issues, or build better relationships. Why do we have so many meetings?
It’s not uncommon that employees sometimes believe that their organization has too many meetings. It’s also trendy today that the more traditional meetings have changed to more technology oriented or to more informal settings. Many organizations though are sticking to the traditional closed door conference room live and in-person meetings. Are these meetings productive?
Productivity in meetings really boils down to effective meeting management. It is not uncommon for a client to ask me to sit in on a staff meeting or a managers meeting to get a feel for what is happening at the organization. From those experiences I can tell you that some are managed very well, others are patched together with people coming and going, arriving late, leaving early, and repeating the same old habits of a focus on presenting problems with little or no attention to presenting solutions. If they aren’t productive why are we having them?
So Many Meetings
Often organizations intend for meetings to be a way to share information relevant to the entire team. There is great benefit to doing this and of course it makes sense that this is a fairly common practice.
What about the meeting held after the meeting that contains additional information about the meeting, or the meeting that is held before the meeting that prepares strategically for how the next meeting will run? And that’s not all, there are the meetings that are held more privately with a select group of people to discuss how other people behaved in the meeting or to brainstorm or forecast what some of those people might do at the next meeting. Let’s not forget about the people who are not invited to the meeting after the meeting who are now nervous about the more private closed door meeting, and then they have a meeting to discuss their paranoia about what is happening at the behind the closed doors meeting.
Wow, deep breaths, deep breaths, and breathe.
One of the most common reasons that organizations are overburdened with too many meetings is because of a lack of trust. Sometimes this may be that people don’t trust that the work will get done, sometimes it is that they don’t trust it will be completed properly or with high quality, and in other cases it may be that they fear someone will cast blame that the people just weren’t informed enough (an excuse?) to be successful. Likely there are many other reasons too, things like gossip, lack of respect, and poor accountability practices. Does your organization have too many meetings?
How Many Are Too Many?
This is often hard to measure but some of this circles all the way back to the question of productivity. If meetings are truly productive it probably won’t feel like there are too many meetings. Keep in mind that much of the measurement also has to do with how many people are involved and the total length of time.
Most likely it is the people who do not recognize or see the value in meetings that are claiming that there are too many. If they see no value, then either the meetings are not being managed effectively or there are disconnects between the reason and the value. Poor meeting quality, or disengaged and disgruntled participants often creates more performance breakdowns, more blame with less accountability, and even creates less trust.
Perhaps most important is the quality not the quantity.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSP), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.