“We’ve Got to Start Meeting Like This!”

Does this sound familiar?  You are up to your eyeballs in work and trying to balance 10 different projects all of which are supposed to be your “top priority” when you are suddenly summoned by the boss to attend yet another meeting.  No one knows what the purpose of the meeting is, how long it will last or what decisions need to be made. You have no choice…you sit there, suffering in silence while your boss drones on and on. You look across the table at your colleagues – they are rolling their eyes, doodling, checking their e-mail or are otherwise “checked-out.”  What’s worse is that the boss doesn’t even seem to notice that no one else is participating!

According to a January 29, 2015 NPR story, the average American office worker spends more than nine hours of every week preparing for, or attending, project update meetings. That equates to 22.5% of our average 40-hour work week…or 468 hour a year!  Try to imagine what you could accomplish if you had even half of that time back.  Would you enjoy your work more?  Be less frustrated and stressed-out?  Probably.

But good meetings just don’t magically happen - they are the products of good leadership and good training.  As Al Pittampalli observes in the story, there's a lack of self-awareness among meeting leaders as the vast majority self-report that they are conducting meetings well, while the vast majority of participants disagree. Yet Pittampalli says no one speaks up. Why will no one tell the Emperor he has no clothes?  There are a lot of reasons.  Perhaps they do not believe their feedback will be well-received by the boss or that nothing will change as a result or worse…maybe they will suffer negative consequences for speaking up.

Meetings that are well planned and designed can serve several functions. They give participants an opportunity to share relevant information, problem-solve, provide constructive feedback, keep abreast of current events, and keep the organization cohesive. But most importantly, meetings are an opportunity for people to come together to make decisions that will result in action…not more meetings!

The TMG Training Institute provides training and coaching for organizational leaders that help them develop and refine the skills necessary to design and facilitate effective and efficient meetings. In our 2-day workshop offered on April 14-15, 2015, leaders learn how to:

  • Properly plan and prepare for meetings
  • Design meeting agendas that invite participation and engagement
  • Construct the meeting environment appropriately
  • Assign appropriate meeting “roles” to participants
  • Use creative tools and techniques to help keep participants focused
  • Facilitate and guide groups toward their stated goals and objectives
  • Achieve quality, consensus-based decisions that are supported by attendees
  • Create action plans with follow through mechanisms
  • Recognize and effectively manage conflict and problem behaviors during meetings
  • Elicit constructive feedback and evaluate the effectiveness of a meeting

To listen to the NPR story on meetings, go to http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/01/29/npr-meetings. You can find more information on The Mediation Group’s Training Institute, including how to register for our April 2015 workshop on meetings, at www.themediationgroup.org/training.

Until we meet again!