Bad meetings happen every day. Do you tolerate them or do you speak up? If so, read on and make a difference the next time you hold a meeting.
Meetings Meetings Meetings
How mechanical are your meetings? And how effective are they? Does the group pull together to become a capable force for change? Or is it tripped up by a poorly planned and poorly executed meeting structure?
Meetings are an essential part of business life. They are usually convened for achieving some common goal. Yet they can be ineffective and damaging if badly managed.
Why is this? Why do we tolerate bad meetings?
How to Recover From a Bad Meeting
Perhaps it’s because the organisation follows a traditional command and control leadership model that’s based on military-style structures? We see this all the time. New groups that are full of energy and enthusiasm are formed. There may even be excitement about the things we want to change. Everyone comes up with ideas—some good, some great, and some not so good.
Then it kicks in! Everyone wants to command and control one another. There is debate, discussion, and disagreement followed by more and more talking… frustration grows, trust is undermined and time runs out. The group has failed to carry out its objective.
So you’ve met for some time and the group isn’t getting anywhere fast. People are friendly but distractions come easy and before you know it time’s up and too few decisions are made.
What you need is focus and discipline.
A Different Approach to Meetings
First, be prepared. Do your homework to make sure you understand the priorities and what you need to do during the meeting. Build the agenda and schedule around these things but don’t bite off more than you can chew! Limit the number of major topics to one or two at most. And plan to be done before you’re kicked out of the meeting room.
Then start the new meeting by stating very clearly that a change of focus is needed. Something different is going to be tried. Make it clear that meeting is time for getting work done! Emphasise this change of tack with a new style of agenda that clearly shows the main topic of discussion and the decisions to be made. Make this the focus when starting out and when discussions go off-topic.
Finally, stick with the new format as it will take a few sessions for everyone to get used to it. Stay on track, don’t get derailed and make use of a facilitator if necessary.
Soon everyone will see a difference because the meetings are more effective. You will be sidetracked less often and almost certainly meet your objectives. What’s more, people will learn to trust the process and trust each other.
No more bad meetings!
How do you manage bad meetings?
What tips can you share to get a bad meeting back on track? Please join the discussion.
Creative Commons image courtesy Antonio Furno.