Unproductive workplace meetings


Unproductive workplace meetings

At the start of every year – we all should try and do something different to the way we worked the previous year.   In my reading over recent weeks I came across an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review about meetings – so I have made that my 2016 focus.

The article mentioned how Organisations are drowning in unproductive meetings and a major problem is the fact that we refer to so many dialogue exchanges as “meetings”.

Unproductive workplace meetings

A great example is where we have so-called meetings with just two people which really aren’t meetings. They are, in reality, just conversations!

Meetings, as opposed to conversations, should have;

  • structure
  • attendees
  • agendas
  • be about something specific such as to plan and to coordinate or to actually get something done!

The article went onto  identify a few that are hard to justify and I will leave you those to ponder..

For example, those set because managers have information to disseminate. Rather than writing it down in a email, individuals are gathered to what are called “convenience meetings”. They are typically convenient for the individual yet inconvenient for everyone else.  Employee attend these meetings quite often only to hear about things that have already happened.

Then we have meetings called as a matter of tradition or habit – we often go because we always have, but do we need to? If they stopped, would anything bad happen to the business?

Finally, we have some meetings which used for collaboration or alignment, but in reality they are all about just getting together or more delicately put “social meetings” – basically a large talk feast! Surely we can find a more time efficient way to achieve these outcomes.

So before you go and send out your next “meeting request”, stop and think. Is it really necessary?  Could I put this information into an email or make a quick phone call?  Try and eliminate at least one… you might be amazed how many others are thinking the same way you are.

Michael O'Shaughnessy

Michael is a specialist in all things HR. With vast HR experience in the USA and Australia, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and advice to HR Central. When he's not blogging for HR Central you can find him out for dinner in one of Melbourne's newest restaurants.

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