CLOSE THIS WINDOW
Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace
WHAT TO DO WHEN EMPLOYEES SAY,
"MEETINGS HERE ARE A WASTE OF TIME."

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Half of all employees believe that the time they spend
at meetings is not time well spent.

THE PROBLEM

Meetings serve many useful functions. They provide an opportunity for employees from different parts of the organization to communicate and cooperate with each other. They enable employees with different perspectives to provide input. They also help focus employees on organizational rather than just departmental goals.

However, half of all employees believe that the meetings they attend are a waste of time. Here are some reasons why.

  • People come late.

    It is rare that a meeting starts on time. This is a waste of time for everyone. If 6 people attend a meeting and the start of that meeting is delayed for 10 minutes, that's a waste of one person-hour.

    Late attendance is more the rule than the exception. I often joke with the first person who attends one of my meetings by saying, "You're here on time, you must be new to the organization."

  • The meetings take too long.

    Many meetings have no clear pre-set agenda, objectives, or stopping time.

  • Too many people are invited to attend.

    Ever attend a meeting and ask yourself, "Why am I here?" Meeting leaders often over-invite because they don't want to offend anyone by leaving them off the list. But, many would actually prefer not to be included.

TOP OF PAGE

WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO

  1. Put a Time Limit on Meetings

    Tell people that the meetings will start and end promptly. To get people to show on time, make the last person to join the meeting late pay $20 into a special kitty.

    When I worked for a large consulting firm, everyone's billable hours were very closely monitored. Lost time was lost money. They conducted an all-out war against wasted non-billable meeting time. They installed a high table with no chairs in the conference room. The idea was to conduct short stand-up meetings

  2. Use a Process Facilitator

    If a meeting is important enough to occupy people's valuable time, bring in a meeting facilitator. This person's job is to ensure that the meeting flows smoothly, that process issues are discussed, and that the objectives of the meeting are met. Instead of bringing in an outside person to facilitate, bring in someone from another part of the organization or rotate the responsibility among group members.

  3. Pay Special Attention to the End of the Meeting

    Too often, people leave meetings before they have come to their natural conclusion. (Typically, they are running off to attend another non-productive meeting.) This should be discouraged.

    Ample time at the end of meetings should be devoted to two critical activities. First, "next steps" should be discussed. Who is responsible for doing what and what is the deadline for each activity? Also, conduct a "good and welfare" discussion. Ask everyone to say what they thought went well during the meeting, what did not, and what should be done at the next meeting to improve the process.

CONCLUSION

Meetings don't have to be a waste of time. To make them more valuable, limit their length, be careful about who you invite, use a process facilitator, and pay special attention the end of the meeting.

I am very much interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and suggestions to .

TOP OF PAGE

All material is © copyright , Discovery Surveys, Inc.,

CLOSE THIS WINDOW