Vergaderziekte is a Dutch word meaning “meeting sickness”. It is estimated businesses waste an average of 20% of their payroll on bad meetings, the equivalent to sending folks home one day a week. An excess of meetings is the biggest devourer of workers time; frequently a treadmill of pointless activity. Unfortunately, bad meetings tend to lead to even more meetings.
Why do good people have bad meetings? Simple! Organizing a good meeting is both a rare skill set AND a lot of hard work. Chairing a meeting, keeping it focused, on topic and gently cutting off those who wander off topic or dominate the conversation is even more challenging. All too often it is easier just to wing it and muddle through.
Certain human tendencies (including a fondness for our own voice and for the company of others) contribute to the inefficiency of meetings. Humans may be social animals but that does not make meetings automatically effective.
It is vital to have both a tight agenda AND at tight attendance policy (if you are there for a specific topic, why sit thru the whole meeting?)
– Specific Topic(s)
– Time Limits (including per topic)
– Clear Goals/Purpose/Outcomes
– Follow Up/What’s Next: Who owns what by when (Did everyone attend the same meeting?)
Weak reasons to have a meeting:
– To disseminate information (can we say emails?)
– For bonding (necessary but waaay over done)
– To get everyone on the same page (i.e. We are afraid they didn’t/won’t read the email)
– Worst reason: because it was scheduled i.e. Standing meetings
As an Owner of a business, I try, try, try to avoid meetings and keep them short with minimum attendees. It is amazingly difficult.
As always, I share what I most want/need to learn.