by Steve Kaye
Pssst, want a stock tip that will make you rich?
Okay, here it is: phone
a public corporation and ask to speak with the CEO.
If a secretary tells you that the CEO expects to be busy in meetings for
the next six hundred years, call your broker and sell the stock short.
Any company unable to manage an activity that should last an hour is on
its way down the financial tubes.
Although it's true that senior executives spend much of their time in
meetings, you can bet that a business is in trouble if their meetings
are out of control.
Surveys show companies waste an average of 20% of their payroll on bad
meetings. And that's just the beginning of the problem.
people away from the tasks they were hired to perform -- tasks that make
money for the company and keep the business ahead of the competition.
Since bad meetings are so wasteful, you may wonder why anyone tolerates
them. Unfortunately, many business leaders think that their meetings are
just fine. They even believe that they are experts at holding effective
For example, when I phone companies to ask if they would be interested
in improving their meetings, I sometimes encounter an assistant who
assures me that the executives believe that they hold wonderful
meetings. Then the assistant snickers, coughs softly, and regains enough
composure to state that they don't need my services.
At this point the
assistant sounds like someone on a sinking ship who is throwing a life
jacket into the water.
And that must make you wonder: why any intelligent person would hold a
meeting that wastes everyone's time and produces nothing.
There are easy answers such as 1) they don't know that their meetings
could be effective, 2) they don't know what an effective meeting is
like, or 3) they don't know how to hold an effective meeting.
But what about the rest of them? That is, what about all of the
executives who know how to plan and organize and run an effective
business, but still hold bad meetings?
Let's dig deeper. These executives actually want to hold bad meetings
because they prove to be useful. Here's how.
1. They provide refuge.
Bad meetings provide a sophisticated form of executive busyness. Some
people find this useful because it keeps them from having to work on
difficult tasks such as planning, coaching, learning, and communicating.
Compared to these difficult tasks, sitting in a conference room is easy.
In fact, it is so easy that a six-year old could do it, assuming you
could convince the child to stay inside for such a pointless activity.
Better: An effective meeting is business activity where people work
2. They avoid responsibility
Bad meetings never end with decisions, which means that no one ends up
being held responsible for doing anything.
Some people find this useful
because responsibility implies accountability and accountability
requires results. Thus, without responsibility there is no failure and
everyone appears to perform well.
This masks poor performance so that
everyone continues to receive raises and promotions, even when they
accomplish nothing because (you guessed it) they spent all of their time
sitting in meetings.
Better: Effective meetings produce decisions that someone is responsible
3. They provide excitement
Bad meetings feature all of the elements of a good drama, such as
conflict, tension, and pain.
For example, the participants deliver
self-aggrandizing reports, denigrate their colleagues, and engage in
politics. Some really terrible meetings play out like pathetic
battlegrounds with verbal gladiators battling for favors while the boss
Better: Effective meetings occur in a safe environment of respect.
4. They serve food
Bad meetings become an enviable executive perk when they provide snacks,
coffee, and (sometimes) meals. The attendees then use eating to offset
the boredom of having to hear meaningless discussions. It also saves
them the expense of having to buy food.
Better: Meals should be a separate activity used to build relationships and (sometimes) rest.
5. They entertain
Bad meetings resemble a party. People tell stories, trade jokes, and
argue over trivia. Some meetings feature comedy performances by the
office fool. Others feature humorous belittlements by the office bully.
And if neither of these occurs, the absolutely unbelievable discussions
amaze and entertain everyone.
Better: Effective meetings use process tools to make methodical progress toward results.
Consider your options!
All of this shows why the type of meetings held in a company should be
of major concern when making investment decisions.
If the executives
need to learn how, that can be fixed by scheduling a workshop. Then you
might consider investing in the company, after they complete the
If, however, the executives hold bad meetings to avoid
fundamental leadership responsibilities, you should seek other
By the way, my workshops show people how to hold effective meetings that
end with results. Call if I can help.
Certified professional facilitator and author Steve Kaye helps groups of people hold effective meetings. His innovative workshops have informed and inspired people nationwide. His facilitation produces results that people will support. And his books The Manager's Pocket Guide to Effective Meetings, Meetings in an Hour or Less, and 117 Tips for Effective Meeting show how to hold effective meetings. Call 714-528-1300 or visit http://www.stevekaye.com for dozens of articles, tips, and ideas.
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