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Meetings – a necessary evil?

A COMMON complaint from managers and staff is the number of meetings they have to attend which consume valuable time. Meetings are necessary, but they don’t have to be perceived as a waste of time. No one will complain if a manager sets out to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of meetings. A good place to start is to compare the meetings you conduct against this list of reasons why meetings attract such bad press. This analysis of your own meetings will highlight ways that you can improve the quality of your meetings. WHY MEETINGS FAIL Here are some of the more common reasons why meetings are too often seen to be ineffective: • Decisions made at the meeting are not followed through to implementation. • Poor or no preparation by the meeting leader and the participants. • ‘Hidden agendas’ - people have other issues usually related to self-interest which are not related to the purpose of the meeting. • Non-attendance of key people so that decisions have to be put on hold. • Lack of control by the leader so that the conversation wanders into areas that do not add value to the purpose of the meeting. • One person dominating discussion and decisions so other people present don’t bother contributing their ideas. • The meeting leader has a pre-determined outcome - no consensus. • No one has the authority to make the decision. • The outcome or the decision is not really agreed - people go along with the decision, but with no real conviction. • The reason for the meeting or the purpose of the meeting is not established or is unclear. • People are not committed to the reason for the meeting. • There is a lack of emphasis on fact - more focus on opinion, assumption and inference. • People don’t feel safe to say what they really think and feel. • People of lower status feel intimidated by those of higher status. • Contributions are not sought and obtained from all participants. • Lack of stability of the meeting participants, i.e. key people being replaced while on leave or other business by people who have no background knowledge of a particular agenda item. • The counter-productive or negative attitudes of some participants are not confronted or brought out into the open. • Insufficient notice about the meeting. • No action plan with a monitoring process agreed in relation to decisions made. • No check of the level of commitment of participants to a decision. • No clear agenda established with priorities and time allocations for each agenda item. • No circulation of an agenda with clear identification of how participants will be expected to contribute to the purpose of the meeting. • Meeting starts late and finishes late. • Too many items/activities planned for the time available. • No, illegible or poor quality visual aids. • No evaluation of how effectively we conduct our meetings. In the coming weeks’ columns, we’ll look at ways to improve your meetings. These articles are from the international best-selling books, ‘You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really.’ Volumes 1, 2 and 3 by Daniel Kehoe published by McGraw Hill. www.bobsbooks.com.au for on-line orders. Daniel Kehoe provides a range of tools for leadership, people management and business improvement to small, medium and large organisations including the You Lead, They’ll Follow Experience® and Systematic-Innovation® - one of the best ideas management systems on the planet. For further information visit: www.space123.com ; 08 9477 1135; dk@space123.com

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