Let’s Meet About Nothing: Nothing to Something in Three Steps

21 Sep

I counted exactly 23 dents in the ceiling. I could really use the bathroom. How much longer must I sit trapped in here? Should I stop playing the game where I see how long I can last without looking at the clock?

Meetings are boring. Boardrooms are named after the feeling that many employees are subject to in meetings – Board-dom. Teams host weekly meetings to set goals, discuss tasks and assess performance. Unfortunately, as pointed out by Edward Prewitt in “Pitfalls in Meetings and How to Avoid Them,” meetings often prove highly inefficient.

–       Department heads fail to clarify the purpose of the meeting.

–       Employees rarely have any say in agenda topics.

–       Meetings falsely imply that the company welcomes employees’ opinions.

–       Bosses hardly ever follow up with tasks delegated in meetings.

Do employees have incentives to pay attention? Workers often complain that meetings keep them from performing actual work.

Make Meetings Useful. I feel fortunate that I interned at a company where I looked forward to the weekly department meetings. How do they do it?

  1. Agenda. The day before each meeting, the Marketing Coordinator sends out an email to request topics that the staff feels necessary to address with the whole team present. The Marketing Coordinator then types the complete agenda and hands it out to each attendee. Employees know exactly what they must accomplish in the designated hour and a half; therefore, the dreaded three-hour meeting with no real purpose does not exist.
  2. Ask Opinions. Furthermore, during the meeting the Director of Marketing individually asks each attendee if there he/she has anything specific that he/she would like to address. I felt shock on my second day when the Director of Marketing called on me, the lowly intern, to address the group. From that day on, however, I felt that the company appreciated my presence at the meeting and respected my opinion.
  3. Follow Up. During each meeting, the Marketing Coordinator takes detailed notes to email to the attendees. When the director delegates a task to an individual, his/her name appears bold next to the task in the document. The notes outline the direction of the company’s projects as well as ensure the attendees do not overlook delegated tasks when the meeting proceeds to other agenda points.

Let’s meet about something.

by Jodi Rosenzweig

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