Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that meetings are one of the most useless and wasteful activities of business. Studies show that at the average manager spends about 40% of their time in meetings and that at least 50% of that time is totally wasted. That equates to roughly 1 day per week in which we accomplish nothing due to meetings.
So why do we hold them? Because deep in our psyche we somehow believe that meetings are a communications best practice. Have an issue? Call a meeting. Need to check up on projects? Call a meeting. Policy to announce? Call a meeting. Sometimes we even have meetings on meetings—seriously!
Now I am not against meetings per se. However, I am against waste and non-productive activity so, ipso facto, if a meeting is wasteful then I’m against it. In another blog, I’ll discuss how to manage meetings in a more productive way. In this post, I’d like to start with this premise: we need to have a healthy distaste for and aversion to meetings if we are going to communicate well. If we were to start with the fundamental agreement that, in fact, meetings are usually pretty lousy at fostering good communication we would be on the right track to improve our overall communication with each other and around the company.
Three questions I’d like to challenge you to answer for yourself.
- Over the course of a week, how many hours do you spend in meetings? What percentage of your overall work time does that represent?
- What percent of the time you spent in meetings was useful, instructive, innovative or productive?
- On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being supernatural understanding and 1 being raving idiocy) how would you rate each meeting you attended in its overall effectiveness to communicate?
My guess is that you will very quickly realize the inherent waste and danger in meeting reliance. With that, we are prepared to handle meetings and communication in a better and more mature way.