It’s official we’re addicted to meetings. We have reached the zenith of meeting culture, in some organisations employees spend at least 50% of their time in meetings. It’s become somewhat of a joke at certain organisations, like the BBC in the UK, where some employees entire working week is spent in endless rounds of meetings with little notion of effectiveness or concrete outcomes.
Technology has done us no favours simply making “the drug” more accessible and more easy to schedule than ever before. Like all addictions we know it’s bad for us but we do it anyway. Management research is almost uniformly hostile towards endless meetings but in this age of post truth and post facts we carry on regardless failing to have the better meetings we strive for.
Meetings have variously been described as the “silent productivity killers” but this belies the fact that from time to time they do need to happen. Actions needs to be discussed and outcomes agreed and this often works best when a collective of minds come together. In fact meetings can be amazing, they’re not, but that’s where Amazemeet comes in.
So how do we break the cycle of something we are so deeply addicted to?
One of the major culprits in ineffective meetings is the lack of an agenda. It seems kinda obvious but so many meetings take place without a clear idea of why?
The agenda goes hand in hand with the outcomes. Without a clear idea of what is being discussed and what decisions need to be made meetings can be like meandering down the river on lazy Sunday afternoon.
Often overlooked, how many times have you sat in a meeting thinking I really don’t need to be here or worse I really shouldn’t be here? It’s become culturally normal for purposeless meetings to be called simply as a way of exerting management control or even worse as de facto therapy sessions, inviting as many people as possible to the theatre. Just think if you spend 2 hours a week in one of these that’s over 2 weeks starring at a colleague who is probably thinking the same thing.
You need a way to say no. Or to be more precise you need a way to say no that actually benefits what the meeting is trying to achieve.
Can we actually change this?
Like any cultural shift it’s not going to be easy. But then we got used to using our phones to book cabs instead of standing on the sidewalk with our arm held out.
We believe the key lies in outcomes. Demonstrable better outcomes from following a process and a format to have more effective meetings will be the real driver. When you can genuinely say:
That meeting was productive
I didn’t attend that meeting, I got on with my tasks and the meeting was better for it.
When we meet we know things will move forward.
We meet less and more effectively and we’re a happier company for it.
Then we know we are moving forward. That kind of sentiment can’t be ignored. In fact I bet there’s a lot of people who will want some of that.