Improving Staff Meetings

By Susan Tinnish Advisory Group Chair, Vistage | December 27, 2015

Most of us spend a significant amount of time in business meetings. Ideally, meetings increase the effectiveness of decision-making, respond to problems, foster innovation and create a smoother running, more profitable business. The everyday, mundane business meeting is important for three reasons.

First - Regular meetings influence the organization's performance and culture. "Regular meetings always display, affirm and exercise the organization's values, structures and roles – so they are also the primary means by which the organization perpetuates its culture," states William Daniels in his book, Group Power II: A Manager's Guide to Conducting Regular Meetings (1990).

Second - Poorly-managed meetings waste time. The Wharton Center for Applied Research published the following findings in the Wall Street Journal:
• Senior executives average of 23 hours a week in meetings.
• Middle managers spend 11 hours in meetings per week.
• Senior and middle managers said only 56% of meetings were productive. They commented that phone calls or memos could have replaced over 25% of the meetings they attend.

• In a survey reported in Industry Week, 2000 managers claimed at least 30 percent of their time spent in meetings was a waste of time. According to a 3M Meeting Network survey of executives, 25-50 percent of the time people spend in meetings is wasted.

According to a survey by Office Team, a division of Robert Half International, 45 percent of senior executives surveyed said that their employees would be more productive if their firms banned meetings for a least one-day a week (Williams, 2012).

Third - Ineffective meetings are a source of negative energy. Poorly managed meetings wear on the heart and soul of employees. Business communication impacts the motivation of employees. A highly communicative and collaborative work environment promotes employee productivity, creativity and inspiration. Poor business communications demoralize employees leading to confusion (Writing, n.d.).

Changing poorly managed meetings is not impossible. This article dissects meetings into four parts (before the meeting, during the meeting, content fixes, at a meeting's conclusion) to provide fifteen tips for improving the dysfunctional business meeting.

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