Meetings — 3 Major Problems

Meetings are a business ritual causing the loss of millions of productive hours and billions of dollars in conference rooms across the world. But that’s not all.

Poorly Run Meeting Result in:

1. Lots of Time Wasted

“Time is money.” — Common Saying

A clock with the symbols of astrology on it.

Poorly run meetings are endemic in government and corporations. It’s truly amazing how corporations will focus complete and absolute attention an lowering income statement expenses, but turn a blind eye to the thousands of man years lost in poorly led and poorly run meetings.

One can always get more money, but you never get more time. Every meeting, not matter how well run will have a 5 to 10 percent loss factor. The meeting gets started late, the group strays off topic, one person takes 5 minutes to explain something that could have been done in 30 seconds, etc.

However, most meetings have high loss factors—often 50 percent or higher. In fact, a 1993 study by the Wharton Center for Applied Research found that middle managers spent 11 hours a week in meetings of which they felt only 56% of them were productive. Besides, time loses, there are also other costs such as the impact on morale.

Since losses from ineffective meetings don’t appear on the financials, organizations tolerate a needless drag on productivity; one that causes no end of frustration to already overworked managers and executives. 

2. The Same Problems Keep Coming Back

Problems with meeting processes result in problems that never get solved.

“We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over.” — Paul Zielie

Besides time loss, it’s typically the case that in poorly run meetings, the group often doesn’t adapt the best idea. Plus the person conducting an ineffective meeting generates a fair number of passive-aggressive individuals who have no intention of supporting or acting on what was discussed.

One would think, that people would learn from experience, that a mistake made once, will not occur again. Unfortunately, meetings often fail to resolve problems. And so participants keep coming back again, and again, and again to solve the same problems.

3. Bad Decisions Get Made

“A meeting: an event where minutes are kept are but hours are lost.” — Anonymous

Executives are typically prisoners of what what they are told by underlings—subordinates who often present biased information. Plus bad leadership allows phenomenon such as GroupThink and the Risky Shift to produce terribly flawed decisions.

Fixing meeting problems reminds me of seeing a cockroach under the refrigerator – for every one you see there are ten hidden waiting to surprise you. Clearly, they are not getting that much better. Problems are still major hassles

Additional Resources

  Check Out this Infographic from Hubspot

Don’t Hate Meetings—Bruce Wilson

• Common problems with meetings include: no clear purpose, no clear outcome, rambling participants, personality conflicts, poor quality participation, late arrivals, early departures, and absenteeism

Getting Unstuck: Common Problems in Meetings

• This research paper lists 28 problems with meetings. These include: poor listening, lack of focus, low energy, poor attendance, boring, etc

Seven Sins of Deadly Meetings—From FastCompany

  •  Don’t take meetings seriously
  • Meetings are too long
  • People wonder off the topic
  • Nothing happens once the meeting ends.
  • People don’t tell the truth.
  • Meetings are missing important information.
  • Meetings never get better.

Meetings in America — A Verizon White Paper

Lots of interesting facts including costs of different types of meetings

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