Why People Hate Meetings
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
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!”