Holding Meetings Accountable
After each boring, soul-crushing meeting I ask myself, “Why do we do this?”
It’s a fair question, given the payroll expense of each person per hour of meeting time. Make it all day and add a few speakers and food, and that’s serious dough.
I’ve been to too many vague, feel-good meetings on quality, safety, and how to have group hugs to count. I’ve attended mandatory meetings that dispense critical information I’ve already seen on paper, attached to email, or online. I’ve witnessed two people carry on a private conversation in a meeting while the rest of us doze off, struggling to feign fascination. And I once attended an hour and half long meeting with other managers to hear how we all had to save money!
The “good” meetings are worse. I’ve attended too many where great things are talked about, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for an idea, the speakers are dynamic and interesting, action plans are drawn up, people are threatened if they don’t change behavior, and the second we walk out the door nothing changes. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode in which everyone comes alive for a while but when the clock chimes we all turn back into mannequins; pan to Rod Serling for existentialist comments in a Manhattan department store. (Doo dah doo doo, doo dah doo doo ...)
How do we hold meetings accountable?
Another fair question. Like all work paid for by an employer, a meeting should generate a tangible product. A meeting should make an action plan, recommendation, or decision that increases productivity, improves the product, or saves money. The meeting, furthermore, should be the most cost effective, best way to accomplish these tasks. People should leave the meeting with a sense that they have worked to improve what they do and in turn be held accountable to do so.
Wow, that sounds easy. Maybe I’ll bring that up at the next meeting, if I can stay awake long enough to get on the agenda.
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