Poor Meetings Culture
Building and developing a positive team problem solving culture is what I am tasked to do, and we do it well. We have a great track record. But, what holds us back is the existing slow moving, bureaucratic and indecisive meeting culture currently resident in the business.
You would not believe how poor this can be. In many cases it’s evident that very few people have ever been trained in utilising their key behaviours to reach effective decisions and making the most out of the humble meeting.
Mastering Potential of Meetings
Meeting should be vibrant and energised forums which are valued, and which generate outstanding ideas and decisions. The focus should be on implementation and ‘doing and acting’, more rather than just ‘talking and thinking’. They need to be active, not passive, vibrant not stolid.
What worries me most is that the ‘default’ settings for most meetings is one of low expectations of those attending. It’s taken for granted and accepted that this is the way that things are when they could be so much more exciting, fulfilling and purposeful.
Did you know that the average manager probably spends 50-70% of their time each day in some form of meetings? This of course depends on the nature of the role, the number of staff reporting to them or the amount of interaction with customers, users or clients. You have to ask yourself, how much of this time is wasted and if you compound all the time of those attending those meetings, you get some very scary idea of how any performance is managed and achieved.
I expect I am not the only to note that most organizations have a very poor meetings culture characterised by:
- Many meetings being a waste of time – probably 80-90% of them, because they are poorly chaired and have no agreed or prioritised agenda
- Meetings that fail to agree decisions and firm actions
- People attend and don’t speak up, while others hog the floor and add little value for the time they speak
- The average meeting takes longer than it should and does not achieve the outcomes for which it was originally designed
- Poor practice at meetings is not challenged i.e. turning up late, leaving early or simply not turning up
- When decisions are made, they are usually made by a minority, and usually the top 15-25% who are present, while others doodle and contribute little
- Sending a deputy who does not have the authority to make decisions
- Failing to digest the required information and documents prior to the meeting
Self-assess your own Business
The list of problems relating to ineffective meetings could fill a flip chart and it is my intention here to state what we can do about it. Before I do that, I wanted to share the thoughts of some very profound thinkers and doers and business leaders who have strong views on meetings.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ view which he shared with his top team and their direct reports was "You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question."
Elon Musk, the co-founder of Pay Pal, CEO of Tesla Inc. and SpaceX is a critic of ineffective business meetings and once sent an email to staff in which he made some "strong recommendations" about streamlining operations "Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren't adding value."
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, radically streamlined meetings at the social media giant by asking managers the point of a meeting - to "make a decision” not have a discussion with little action arising from it.
Tailored and shaped for the Organization
So, where are we going with this? As part of our Facilitator training in Rapid Improvement Events, we run a robust, dynamic and interactive series of workshops to equip newly created teams to create the results that radically improve business performance. In many cases, this directly confronts the poor meetings culture that dominates many organizations.
What has surprised us is that these workshops, which were designed for Business Transformation and RIE projects, have morphed into a completely new set of mature meeting sessions branded as ‘superior decision making’ in a variety of client organizations – simply because they work.
And they must be tailored precisely to ensure that the old meeting culture does not inhibit the new dynamic approach. So this starts with a simple diagnostic and data gathering phase that morphs into a series of workshops and on-line support for attendees.
So, this is what we offer – two-day sessions that focus on:
- Diagnosing your meetings culture, critiquing and ditching the old practices and shaping the new
- Assessing the maturity of your meetings culture and designing a new culture of meetings based on solid research in communication styles
- Equipping you as a champion facilitator, cutting out waste in time and bureaucratic practises
- Setting new positive and challenging ground rules to make meetings highly energised decision-making forums
- Exploring the typical team styles that hold up or sabotage meetings, and replacing them with new productive behaviours
- Develop - the personal discipline to see things through from concept to delivery
So, I’d be interested if this sparks any thought. Please continue the discussion and if you’d like to talk about how we can help you, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org