The Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Get What They Want from Business Meetings
- The group is unclear about the purpose of the meeting and the outcomes to be produced.
Meetings are often cast as discussion events without a clear connection to a business result and expected actions that must occur based upon decisions made during the meetings.
- Individual meeting participants are unclear about their roles.
Participants frequently receive an invitation to attend a meeting with no context for how they will be asked to contribute. They often assume authority to make decisions that has not, in reality, been bestowed leading to frustration and disillusionment with the entire participative process.
- A structure for conducting the meeting is missing.
Surprisingly, the majority of business meetings are still conducted without an agenda and a total absence of a designed process for completing agenda items in the rare instances where an agenda exists.
- Poor communications before, during, and after the meeting.
Effective meetings require: (a) planning so that participants come prepared to fully engage the agenda items; (b) a design that enables active, empathic listening and full self-expression; and (c) follow-up to insure that action items are understood and committed to.
- Meetings are viewed as individual events rather than steps in the consensus building process.
Most meetings are elements of either a problem solving, decision making, or action planning process with the generic purpose of achieving appropriate consensus around issues of causality, action alternatives, or implementation plan steps.
- Action plans as a mandatory meeting outcome are rarely generated.
In a sense, meetings can be viewed as a reflective and analytical interlude between real world activities. Before a meeting ends, the basic planning questions: What do we do next? By when should it be done? Who will do it? must be asked and answered.
- Meeting leaders and participants do not understand the nature of consensus.
Consensus is not the outcome of a vote or a wearing down of the dissenters.True consensus depends on the collection and scrutiny of data/information and the conduct of an authentic dialogue about that information in which all views are fully expressed and the participants feel heard.
- Meeting leaders and participants do not typically have a process for conflict resolution.
Conflict in and of itself is neither good nor bad despite the negative response that many have to the word.Conflict is most often the product of misunderstandings born of an inability or unwillingness to listen. The energy generated by conflict can become a powerful source of creativity and innovation when it is harnessed and used productively.
- Some meeting participants often have little or nothing to contribute to outcomes while people who may be key contributors are not invited.The desired outcomes and the work processes that produce those outcomes are a logical basis for determining meeting attendees. It pays to err on the side of inclusivity rather than exclusivity in the early stages of any project.
- Behavioral and procedural training on how to conduct productive meetings is not provided.
The benefits or training in basic communication skills and group dynamics are substantial. Productive meetings are not an accident. When people are trained in the requisite skills and techniques, meetings accomplish more and the attendees actually enjoy their participation.