MEETINGS & A New Study of 19,000,000 Meetings Reveals That Meetings Waste More Time Than Ever (But There Is a Solution)

by Peter Economy, Inc. Magazine, 1/11/19.

…According to Doodle’s 2019 State of Meetings report, the cost of poorly organized meetings in 2019 will reach $399 billion in the U.S. and $58 billion in the U.K. This is almost half a trillion dollars for these two countries alone — a tremendous drag on the effectiveness of businesses.

And what are some of the consequences for employees who suffer through poorly organized meetings? According to the report, respondents most often cited:

  • Poorly organized meetings mean I don’t have enough time to do the rest of my work (44%)
  • Unclear actions lead to confusion (43%)
  • Bad organization results in a loss of focus on projects (38%)
  • Irrelevant attendees slow progress (31%)
  • Inefficient processes weaken client/supplier relationships (26%)

The good news is there are things anyone can do to make their meetings better and more efficient and effective. Doodle’s State of Meetings report suggests that doing these four things can make a big difference:

  • Set clear objectives for your meeting
  • Have a clear agenda
  • Don’t have too many people in the room
  • Use visual stimulus such as videos and presentations

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COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP & You’ll Never Get a Group to Agree on a Decision. Here’s What to Do Instead

by Chris McGoff, Inc. Magazine, 6/20/17.

… Trying to get everybody to agree on something gives way too much power to the 16 percent of the people who are ninjas at disrupting agreement to draw attention to themselves. These ninjas are known as laggards, according to The Innovation Adoption Curve.

When you ask the group to come to consensus on something, you empower the laggards. They use a variety of tools like “we tried that before,” or they inject information into the process at the worst possible time. You know who they are. They suck the life out of possibility for sport.

No matter how many of their questions you answer they always have more questions. Every time you get close to a decision, laggards bring up a new argument that will make the group hesitate. The way to avoid this pitfall is to rethink the traditional definition of consensus and start using a working definition of consensus.

Next time you have a meeting and need to make a decision, write the following three statements in a prominent place before the meeting begins. Let everyone know that a decision will be made according to the following working definition of consensus:

  1. The process we use will be explicit, rational, and fair.
  2. Each participant will be treated honorably as we go through the process.
  3. We can all “live with and commit to” the outcome.

Let’s dive into what each of those three statements means …

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MEETINGS & Why Those ‘Hallway Meetings’ (After the Big Meeting) Are Annoying Your Co-Workers

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I wish I had read this when I was leading faculty meetings. One of the things that frustrated me was how after the meeting was over faculty members would go into the hallway (or even remain in the room) and rehash many of the decisions that were made by consensus. After reading this article I realized I wasn’t encouraging dissenting views during the meeting and instead was pushing them into post meeting venues.

Why Those ‘Hallway Meetings’ (After the Big Meeting) Are Annoying Your Co-Workers by James Sudakow, Inc. Magazine, 7/12/17.

…After-the-fact informal meetings can and do often create a leadership and decision making culture where it is fully acceptable to self-sabotage decisions on which you already had alignment. This frequently creates the need to have another meeting to decide on something you already thought you had decided on.

The result is that passive aggressive approaches to conflict not only become allowed but actually become instrumental driving forces for how disagreement on hard decisions are managed. In other words, they make it OK for the real disagreement to not be voiced in the big decision making meeting but after the fact in the hallways, which undermines or starts to undo what you thought was already done…

What causes it?

To potentially oversimplify the complexity of our human behavior (which I’ve been known to do from time to time), it stems from the inability to have the hard conversation, disagree constructively, and create a leadership environment where dissenting points of view are both acceptable and encouraged…

How do you fix it?

Here are two things I have done personally as well as seen other leaders do that start to nip this bad tendency in the bud:

1. No decisions made until one dissenting point of view is raised…

Doing this forces people to raise issues that they may fear will be unpopular or viewed negatively, which curbs the need to say it later and undermine confidence in the decision the team made.

2. Set leadership team ground rules that there are no meetings after the meeting. Then get the team members to sign it like a contract.

Some call them operating norms. Others call them rules of engagement. Some just call them ground rules. Many leadership teams don’t come together to figure out what they are, but those that do have a way of self-regulating behaviors…

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MEETINGS & Don’t End a Meeting Without Doing These 3 Things

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As a church consultant, I have attended and analyzed hundreds of church board meeting from various denominations and sizes of congregations. And these meetings may be a greater waste of time than any other activity in which church leaders engage. A solution is to have outcomes and to meet/state them before the end of the meeting. Here are three helpful ways to undertake this.

Don’t End a Meeting Without Doing These 3 Things

by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene, Harvard Business Review, APRIL 26, 2016.

Confirm key decisions and next steps. Recap what was decided in the meeting, who is accountable for following through, when implementation will occur, and how it will be communicated. You want every attendee to leave the meeting with the same understanding of what was agreed, so there’s little chance of anyone reopening the issues later…

Develop communication points. If a colleague not at the meeting asks an attendee “What happened?” he or she should know what to say. So before you wrap up, put the question to the group. “What are the most important things we accomplished in our time here together?” As the group responds, capture the key points on a flip chart or whiteboard and briefly summarize them. Once you have alignment on what should be communicated to others ask everyone if there are any parts of the discussion that they wouldn’t want to be shared…

Gather session feedback. Especially if your group will meet regularly, ask attendees for feedback on the session while it’s fresh in their minds. This is an oft-missed opportunity to learn both what people liked and what they would change. Instead of asking a broad question like “What feedback do you have?”, which often yields equally vague and unhelpful responses, break the discussion into what we call “roses” (positives) and “thorns” (negatives). Start with the latter. Tell attendees to think about everything they have received or done related to the meeting from the time they were invited to the review, including any prereads, prework and aspects of the meeting itself, such as location, time quality of the coffee, etc. Then ask, “What could be improved?..

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MEETINGS & Polite Ways to Decline a Meeting Invitation

by Liane Davey, Harvard Business Review, 5/19/16.

Start by assessing the value of the meeting. Is the meeting about something important, timely, and worthwhile? …If the value of the meeting isn’t clear from the invitation, reply back with a few open-ended questions before making your decision:

  • “Could you please provide some additional information on the agenda?”
  • “What stage of decision making are we at on this topic?”
  • “How should I prepare for the discussion?”

If it’s clear that the meeting is worthwhile, your next question is whether or not you’re the right person to attend..,

  • “What are you looking for me to contribute at this meeting?”
  • “Who else will be there from my department?”
  • “Who will I be representing?”

Finally, if you believe the meeting will be valuable and that you would make a contribution to the discussions, you need to decide whether or not the meeting is a priority for you right now. How central is the meeting topic to your role? Where does the issue fit relative to your other immediate demands? How unique is your contribution and could your seat be better filled by someone else?

If you can’t say yes to any of the three criteria above, then it’s appropriate to decline the meeting, but tread carefully… Consider a few different options:

Can I stop the meeting altogether? If the meeting failed criteria #1 because you don’t believe it’s set up for success, take a moment to talk with the organizer about your concerns… Try one of the following approaches:

  • “This is an interesting topic. Based on our current year priorities, I’m not sure we’re ready for a productive conversation yet. Would it be possible to push this meeting back and let the working group make a little more progress before we meet?”
  • “I’m looking forward to making some decisions on this issue. From the meeting invite, it doesn’t look like Production is involved. I would like to wait until someone from Production is willing to join. Otherwise, we won’t be able to make any decisions.”
  • “Based on the information in the invitation, it looks like this meeting is for informational purposes. Would it be possible to get a summary sent out rather than convening a meeting?”

Can I recommend someone else? If the meeting is important, but it failed criteria #2 because you’re not the right person for the job … Try floating these options:

  • “I’m flattered that you are interested in my input. I don’t believe I’m the best qualified on this topic. I did a little digging and it looks like Pat would have the necessary context. Would you be comfortable inviting Pat rather than me?”
  • “Given that this is a decision-making meeting, I think it’s more appropriate to have my manager represent our team.”
  • “Thanks for the invite to this meeting. I don’t think I’m required at this point. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to send Jose as my delegate.”

Can I contribute in advance? If the meeting failed criterion #3 (you determined that it was an important topic on which you could add unique value, but attending the meeting doesn’t fit with your schedule or priorities), you have the opportunity to add value in advance…You can respond to the organizer by saying:

  • “This is going to be an important discussion. I’m not able to attend, but I will find some time to share my thoughts so you can include them in the discussion.”
  • “I’m sorry that I can’t attend the meeting. If I prepare you in advance, could I ask that you represent my ideas at the meeting?”

Can I attend for part of the meeting? If one or more agenda items did meet all three of your criteria, whereas others didn’t … You can respond with one of the following:

  • “Thanks for the invite. I think it’s really important for me to be part of the discussion on rebranding. Given a few other priorities at the moment, I’m going to excuse myself once that item is complete.”
  • “Would it be possible to cover the rebranding discussion as the first agenda item? I can’t stay for the entire meeting but I’d really like to contribute on that one.”

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MEETINGS & Estimate the Cost of a Meeting with This Calculator #HarvardBusinessReview

“In a study of time budgeting at large corporations, Bain & Company found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers was costing one organization $15M a year!”

By Harvard Business Review, 1/11/16.

Stuck in an unproductive meeting — again? Everyone agrees that meetings can be a waste of time, but they’re actually a waste of money, too. How much? In a study of time budgeting at large corporations, Bain & Company found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers was costing one organization $15M a year!

Try our Meeting Cost Calculator to see how much you’re spending on meetings — and how much you could be saving.

Scroll down to start using the calculator, or download the free app to your mobile device.

How to Install the Mobile App

MEETINGS & This Simple Schedule Change Could Radically Increase Your Output #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Scheduling all of your meetings on one day a week is shown to be more productive. This helps you focus on administrative tasks and prevents those tasks from interrupting your productivity on the other days of the week. Read this insightful Inc. Magazine article for the details.

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