Why People Hate Meetings

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You are at work, everything is flowing seamlessly. You are getting stuff done at the fastest rate ever…you are in what we know as the ZONE. The ZONE where everything clicks, where answers that have evaded you for weeks can be found and where to-do-lists are actually empty! All the information is flowing seamlessly and you are about to crank it up to the next level…when you hear a chime followed almost immediately by a pop-up box blasting its way onto your computer screen. It is a meeting reminder…you have no idea what the meeting is for, the only thing you know is that you have to be there…you strive to steal a few more minutes at your cubicle…but the clock on your desk is non-corporative as it consistently ticks away ebbing ever closer to the meeting start time. Your last hope is a late meeting as you stare at the meeting room from your cubicle praying that no-one shows up early…but your prayers are shattered as you see your manager walking into the meeting room 5 minutes early surrounded by a swarm of people! You reluctantly and hurriedly pack up your meeting items and run to the meeting room. You make it just as the room door closes…you are the last one in…you search the room for the closest chair to the exit, but every sit is taken…and the only one left is smack dab in front of the Conference room!
 

For the next 30 minutes you endure tonnes of mind-numbing irrelevant information, you even pinch yourself to stay awake but nothing works as your heads drops almost snapping your spinal cord in half…finally the meeting is over…BUT only because the conference room has been booked by another department. Your waddle out of the room and hurry to your seat to re-continue your work…but you can’t…you have left the ZONE and nothing you can do can bring you back…you stare frustrated at your computer until you hear a chime followed by a pop-up as you are summoned to yet another meeting…
 

The meeting interruption cycle above occurs daily across the globe…meetings are called to seemingly develop ideas to improve or address company productivity, but what they end up doing is destroying and ruining productivity. You don’t need a college degree to see the disastrous effects of multiple meetings on employee’s…no one enjoys meetings and not just because majority of them are badly executed but that there are simply too many meetings in a day! According to an Ayers report 25 million meetings taking place in corporate America every day and on average a business person will spend 25 percent of their time in meetings. That means in a typical work week, an employee will spend 10 hours locked down in some kind of meeting, but that is nothing compared to Managers and Supervisors who can spend as much as 2 days out of every week in meetings. To put that in perspective that is a staggering 104 days of meetings in a year! And that does not include time spent by employees after a meeting as they struggle to transition back to work mode…and just as they hit their groove another meeting reminder flashes on their computer screen igniting the inefficient cycle all over again.
 

Analyzing these numbers we can see the problem is obvious…the very same mechanisms that strives to improve efficiency instead exacerbates the problem. The good news is that companies are aware of the issues with meetings…so they spend millions and millions of dollars investing in consultants to train their employees on how to have more effective meetings. But, unfortunately these trainer yield little results and more and more meetings are called and more company time and productivity are wasted. It is as if employees are simply sleeping through these training meetings or maybe the training companies are not telling the companies the REAL TRUTH. And the truth is this…for you to save creativity and improve productivity in your organization your solution is not to have more efficient meeting, but to have less meetings!
 

Think about it, if you reduced the amount of meetings employees had to participate in, you would dramatically increase their productivity time. But more importantly, you would reduce the number of interruptions that disrupt their work cycle. As a CEO would you prefer your employees to be involved in 5 very efficient one-hour meetings in a day or just 1 inefficient one-hour meeting in a week. I am sure you would pick the latter.
 

I am not encouraging inefficiency, but rather stressing the point that every company should focus on eliminating meetings versus running more efficient meeting. But what consultant would tell your company that they need to have less meetings? The answer is none. Because it would threaten their source of income! The more meetings companies have the more in demand training consultants are and the more money they make. So they join the meeting madness, throwing up slides and giving out large binders of meeting improvement information. But this has not worked for years…because the very solution they propose is an inherent part of the problem. Albert Einstein once said “you cannot solve a problem with the same mentality that created it” in the same way you cannot tackle the problem of meetings by having more meetings…what you need is a complete revolutionary shift from the norm and I have some ideas:
 

“You cannot solve a problem with the same mentality that created it” Albert Einstien

1. Block Meeting Requests

There is nothing more hated in companies than facebook and twitter. They are both deemed as disruptions to employee productivity, so companies spend thousands of dollars creating software programs that block access to them at work…but if there is anything that really needs to be blocked at work due to its disruptions, it is meeting requests. Let’s face it, meetings are more disruptive than the supposed social media sites and often times end up becoming social gatherings. Thus if we apply the same logic, then companies should block them just as they block social media websites.
 

2. Create Meeting Free Days

We have casual Fridays already in existence; we should also have a no-meeting Monday! On that day nobody is allowed to schedule or call meetings. Employee’s are allowed to work uninterrupted for 8 hours. Anybody found meeting should be arrested or should have their pay deducted. Even impromptu meetings are not allowed, you just sit at your desk and work. This would greatly improve productivity and enable employee’s to plan their week effectively, thus reducing the number of meetings created due to inadequate planning.
 

3. Build Fewer Meeting Rooms

The number of meetings a company has is directly proportional to the availability of meeting spaces. With fewer meetings spaces, employee’s are forced to compete for availability. The resultant effect of competition is that employee’s will fight to get meeting spaces meetings are inevitably fewer. Also similar to the capitalist system, competition will create higher quality meetings as employee’s will strive to optimize their time spent meeting. The other additional benefit of having fewer meetings rooms is that money is not wasted heating or cooling a predominantly empty room and companies will have more office spaces for their employees.
 

4. Create a Meeting Request Tax

This is not a mis-type. I strongly believe that companies should allocate a certain amount of meeting time to their employees a week. If an employee is found exceeding their meeting quote for whatever reason, they should be charged a meeting tax. The money raised from the tax could be used to pay for the emotional suffering and stress suffered by millions of employees who have to suffer through terrible meetings. But just like the above it will make people think much deeply
 

Conclusion

I doubt that any company will adopt any of my proposals above, at least not in the near future. Because meetings are an addiction and like any addiction it will take time before the addiction can be broken. However, the next time your company registers you for one of the many HOW TO RUN MORE EFFICIENT meetings training, ignore their request and use that time to recommend a HOW NOT TO HAVE MEETINGS training…
 

  Ofili is an award winning motivational speaker, author, life coach and entrepreneur who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on twitter , facebook or subscribe to his blog for more success TIPS!”

Ofili

Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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Comments

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19 comments on “Why People Hate Meetings

  1. Graceauta504 on said:

    Meetings!! Same old Boring discussions that add Nothing to productivity nor do they serve the purpose of motivating employees (most times). Right on point Ofili.

  2. Picothen on said:

    I agree! But what about the emails that follow after the meeting and the after after meetings?

  3. Ofili, your posting cannot be any more valid and relevant!….I find meetings to be a mixture of productivity and utter “clumps of wasted time”…YET it seems that they very nature of MANY businesses revolve around meetings…aka the all so familiar “call us NOW for a free consultation….”

    lets assume that your company marketing is so perfect that you are getting so many LEADS/prospects and you are MEETING WITH ALL OF THEM either in person or on the phone, ummmmm when do you have time to work on the projects???….oh what about managing the projects? accounting anyone?….support?….its a battle my friend and i havent quite found any realistic solution…im left with my hand in the air and a conclusion that “it is what it is….”….SIGH

    • Ofili on said:

      lol…I feel your frustration Nnenna. You raised a good point, there are good productive meetings and there are the meetings that are called just to fill up meeting rooms…those ones are the ones that kill me. If we could reduce meetings to only when we absolutely need them, productivity will sky rocket!

  4. Buchi on said:

    Ofili, I find ur posting very true….Infact, I have had this kind of debate in my previous job where series of meetings were been held with little or no result to show for it in terms of productivity and or staff welfare. And I found it difficult to believe at the time that your absence at such ineffective meetings was considered as insubordination.
     As much as we cannot overrule the importance of one or two meetings in a corporate organization; the proliferation of such meetings at almost all times is no good and I consider it a “business show” that wastes employers’ resource.

    • Ofili on said:

      Buchi: I could not have written it any better! You are so right…..we need those meetings but the addiction and overabundance of the meetings are sickening and kill productivity

  5. Radomako423 on said:

    For the July question

    Title: 1/(2^n) A chance of A chance

    Why: I will one day write this book. It would be about my life experiences,  somewhat of an autobiography but composed more of excerpts of different events that has taken place in my life.  I was inspired to one day write such a book after the summer of 2011.   I spent a day off at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY with other camp counselors  I was working with that summer.   As we were throwing a frisbee around that morning, I unknowingly dropped my iphone in the vast field between the parking lot of the college and the river.  I did not realize I dropped my iphone until we got to the river.  I had a lot of ground to cover.  Before making it to the river, a stop was made in Bard’s garden where a couple were taking pictures after their marriage. One could have navigated through the intricately designed garden as if it were a maze.  I had to retrace my steps through this maze-like garden trying to find my phone.  I panicked as I neared the parking lot because my co-counselors were getting ready to leave and time was running out for me to find my phone.  Last stop was the grassy field near the parking lot where my co-counselors and I initially threw the frisbee around. I did not found my phone I had searched everywhere.  I had driven a few hours to another state from where I was working only to lose my iphone.  Just as everyone was packing into the car, one counselor became aware of my misfortune and insisted on taking another look, but I was loath to do so since I might miss my ride.  I decided to step onto the grassy field one more time and as I threw my hands in the air crying out “How am I ever going to find–” and then I stepped on my phone.  I thought to  myself what were the chances of that happening?  However that was not the catalyst for the idea to write this book. Other rare events happen in that one day, which you will have to later read about, made my decision on writing this book resolute.  My life has been a product of probabilities that has lead to improbable events. The book is intended for those who feel their lives are predictable in hopes of inspiring change from the mundane.

  6. Anonymous on said:

    I recently got reported to my boss by an overzealous meeting merchant. This person set up a meeting without letting me know, and when the meeting alarm began to buzz on my screen, I simply deleted it. I was asked why I didn’t come to the meeting, and I said it’s because it adds no value to me or my job and I likewise will not be adding any value to other employees.
    Needless to say, I have become the black sheep in the office, and I am fine with it.
    Imagine people talking about thier dogs, last holidays, what they had for dinner last night in meetings!

    • lol…you are bold man! We need to start a stop meeting protest in Nigeria…but we plan the protest without having any meetings…lol…

  7. Hi, I came across your post here doing research on a new online game for people who hate meetings. It is called Enduroo, and the object of the game is to predict the exact duration of a conference call or meeting before it starts. My prediction is this unofficial gamification will return some power to the people by injecting some friendly competition among co-worker friends, introverts and extroverts alike. Appreciate inviting some friends to play at enduroo.com during your next web meeting and letting me know your thoughts.

  8. gbengaliu25@yahoo.co.uk on said:

    Loool! This is very funny. Recommend these to managers and they’ll ask how come they hired you in the first place. But truly, simple innocent ideas like these are what leads to productivity.

    In actual sense, meetings are not always necessary, I keep telling others. If u have an idea, product launch, investment proposal etc u want to bring on board, u can always type up a concise n well structured email and distribute to people who matter.then follow up with phone calls and talk about it over lunch

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