Have you heard something like this: “I can not make the meeting today, so I will re-schedule it for…”.
Throughout my career as a consultant in continuous improvement and business transformation, I have had the opportunity to visit many organizations in different countries of North and South America. Regardless of the industry, the size of the organization or the region in which they are located, I have found that one of the first obstacles, when starting the journey towards world-class, is the skepticism around holding regular team meetings.
The apathy to meet (especially of active operational people) can have many origins and a lot has been written on the subject. There are numerous articles on how to hold an effective meeting.
Maybe, instead of repeating constantly how to have effective meetings, we should pay attention to the cost of having unproductive meetings.
According to research done1, only in the United States of America:
- There are 11 million ineffective meetings every day. This amounts to 4 billion a year.
- More than 50% of the people surveyed said that having meetings is an unproductive activity. This amounts to 2 billion a year.
- Unnecessary meetings cost companies $ 37 million annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Two thirds of the meetings end before reaching a decision. This means that problems are not resolved in time or are not resolved at all, delaying the achievement of objectives.
To have an idea of what your particular scenario is, you only need to do the calculation: how much time is spent in all those meetings and how much does it cost in terms of unproductive employee hours? What is the value of an inconclusive meeting?
All of you who are or have implemented MDW ™ know that team meetings are an essential element towards improving communication and achieving goals in the organization and that there is also a correlation between effective teams and the results of the organization.
So, why do we continue having fruitless meetings? Neuroscience gives us a possible answer: Habits. Or simply put, “This is the way we’ve always done it.”
From experience, I offer you a series of clues that can help you know the existence of this problem by identifying if your team has these habits:
1. Meetings ramble on with no predetermined time standards.
Unplanned events are a source of stress at work. The absence of a plan or frequent postponement of meetings will introduce significant stress in the team through continuous changes in the daily work routine.
2. Distractors are allowed to interrupt the meeting.
An interruption of 5 minutes may require approximately 20 minutes for the team member to recover the initial concentration level. This category includes the WhatsApp being answered during the meeting and the e-mail that we can not wait to read.
3. It is acceptable practice that the participants to the meeting arrive unprepared (without issues clarified, solutions considered or pertinent data gathered).
This is one of the key reasons whereby decisions are not made on time and the negative effects of the problem persist.
4. The meeting is handled as a brainstorming session.
This is one of the most common issues that mask the experience of point 3, mentioned above. Members arrive at the meeting to “throw ideas into the air” instead of coming up with firm ideas, based on facts and previously submitted information.
5. Nobody is held accountable (or responsible) for closing the actions of the meeting.
The group is allowed to delay the execution of decisions as many times as they wish. They do not follow-up on agreed actions and do not worry about clearly summarizing new ones at the end of the meeting.
6. The actions are not clearly described.
Each action agreed should include the deliverable and output to be obtained, the responsable person and the due date.
7. Generating a good vibe in the group is more important than the productivity of the team.
Personal relationships are not the same as productive relationships. The ideal is to achieve the second without sacrificing the first.
If you are part of the 50% of the population that considers team meetings a waste of time, the probability is high that you are following some of the steps mentioned above. The good news is that every habit can be changed, through:
(a) The constant application of the the good practices until they becomes new habits. Try to eliminate all the negative behaviours described above.
(b) Introduce a program which will address the negative practices, which render our meetings unproductive.
(1 ) https://www.bls.gov/
To know more about the importances of habits in a productive environment visit: