Biggest Meeting Pet Peeves

What is your biggest pet peeve about meetings? This was the question I posed to a group of individuals who work in a shared workspace. I received an overwhelming response from people across different industries and job responsibilities. Their issues included meetings that were too long, too inefficient, as well as meetings that lack a purpose, objective or outcome. According to research from Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings. With an estimated 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted, it is a no-brainer that the group I surveyed feels frustrated.

So, is it possible to take back our time or use it more productively? Meeting pet peeves fall into what I call two main categories, Purpose and Protocol.

Purpose includes the most important question:

• Why do I need a meeting?
• Do I have a specific goal for what I want to accomplish in the meeting?
• Do I need to gather information or disseminate information? If you need to share updates without gaining feedback, an email can take the place of a meeting.

If you determine you need a meeting:

• Invite only the decision makers and people directly involved with the project.
• Schedule meetings with the same team on a consistent day and time of the week.
• Limit meetings to an hour or less and if you don’t need the entire hour – dismiss your group early.
• Create an agenda and STICK TO IT.

If you’re invited to the meeting, here are a few suggestions to make meetings an effective use of your time:
• Ask for an agenda. Review what is being discussed and if you are the correct person to be at the meeting.
• Be prepared: have reports, surveys, research and all information ready to distribute. Better yet, share this information with attendees prior to the meeting so they have time to review and understand.
• Ask for meetings to be set up on a certain day and time for consistency within your schedule (and everyone else’s).

Just as important as the purpose of your meeting is creating a protocol to follow. Protocol pertains to how we act in the meeting. We assume that adults in the workplace know how to behave in a meeting but that isn’t always the case. We‘ve all experienced the person who is long-winded or dominates the conversation. There is the person who speaks over others to get their point across. And then we have the attendees who chronically show up late to the meeting.

Whether you are the person calling the meeting or one of the attendees, it is a great idea to set up the expectations or ground rules of what behavior will and will not be accepted. Whether you include the expected behavior on your agenda or remind attendees of the desired behaviors at the start of your meeting, this review of the rules allows for inclusiveness and collaboration. Discuss and set meeting expectations on day one. Here are some ground rules to consider:
• Everyone participants and no one hijacks the discussion.
• Be respectful of everyone by:
o Being physically and mentally present,
o Listen and be open to new ideas and
o Seek to understand other viewpoints.
• One person to speak at a time: no sidebar conversations.
• Come prepared.
• Start and end the meeting on time.
• Say what is on your mind in the meeting and not after.
• Respect confidentiality.
• Stick to the agenda.

Agendas

Having a meeting without creating an agenda is like starting a business without a business plan. This is your roadmap so be sure to create one and stick to it. If you are invited to a meeting, ask for an agenda so you are aware of what will be discussed and come prepared. For more helpful hints, check out Why Do You Need An Agenda At Your Next Meeting.

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Stephanie