Master Your Game: Meeting Effectiveness
Excellent meetings are productive, engaging, and synergistic; participants emerge from these sessions filled with great enthusiasm, energy, and a greater clarity of purpose. Effective meetings facilitate collective decisions that people will actively support by following through and taking action. Unfortunately, not all meetings are effective. Meetings can be energy-draining, time-wasting and costly.
The Hidden Cost of Meetings
Each of us as team members can make a positive contribution to creating highly effective meetings. Each of us can play a role in setting the agenda, designing the meeting, facilitating the discussion, and providing feedback on the meeting's effectiveness. Meetings are a good indicator for determining the performance level of teams. In general, the more effective the meeting, the more high-performing the team.
Ineffective meetings represent a huge opportunity cost to organizations in terms of lost productivity by participants and foregone opportunities for the organization. Poor meetings lack synergistic and creative thought. Poor meetings also lack the final step: ACTION. If a decision is not inclusive, members lack the motivation to implement the solution. Consequently, the time and effort that went into the process represents a hidden cost to the organization.
How Effective Are Your Meetings?
Let's determine the effectiveness of your meetings. Please go through each item carefully and give yourself an honest score using this rating system of 1 to 5: 1 - Totally disagree,
2 - Disagree, 3 - Doesn't apply/not sure, 4 - Agree, 5 - Totally agree.
1. People tend to resist the idea of another meeting.
2. Meetings generally do not start or end on time.
3. When a member offers an idea, other members do not ask detailed questions or demonstrate active listening.
4. Discussions begin before it's clear to everyone exactly what is being discussed.
5. One or two members dominate the meeting.
6. The meeting often ends before everyone has been heard.
7. People do not address each other directly, but talk about others as if they were not in the room.
8. Many ideas have to be repeated several times before they get a response.
9. The formal leader or chair seems to have more weight than other members.
10. People start to disagree with others before they really understand what's being said.
11. Following meetings, there are postmortems behind closed doors about what really went on.
12. There is never any assessment at the end of meetings to see whether the group has achieved what it set out to do.
13. People react to new ideas by making fun, uttering put-downs, or ignoring the idea altogether rather than questioning and exploring it further.
14. Too many people sit in the meetings not really participating.
15. After the meeting, there is always some confusion about what was agreed upon and who is responsible for implementation.
16. Few decisions are made by consensus; the group lets individuals make decisions, or it tends to vote on issues without much preceding discussion/analysis.
17. The group often cannot make decisions because it does not have the necessary information, or people have not done their homework.
18. There is seldom any checking to see whether the group has gone off track, or if the meeting is an effective use of time.
19. Too often we agree on a course of action because everyone is tired, or cannot be bothered to delve deeper.
20. People seem to leave the meeting drained of energy.
21. The members seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time at the start of meetings trying to define the problem they're supposed to be working on.
22. During meetings people arrive late, ask to be excused early, are frequently called out, and so on.
*Adapted from Facilitating With Ease , Ingrid Bens, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
If you gave yourself a rating of mostly 1 and 2, congratulations to you and your team. You are on track. If you rated 4 or 5 on at least 10 questions, your group can benefit from a meeting effectiveness refresher.
In other issues, I will provide you with pointers on how to improve your meetings.
Wishing you engaging meetings,