Seven Symptoms of Bad Meetings and What You Can Do About Them

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No Closure

There is no closure for decision-making. Decisions are discussed but not decided. There is no agreement to support collective decisions once they are made and people continue to fight them, disavow them or bad-mouth them afterwards.

A good business process gets essential activities done with a minimum of waste. A good meeting process requires decisions or a decision that the topic be continued to the next meeting. Create the expectation that a decision will be made during the meeting and drive for consensus. If a decision still can't be made, the decision may need to be kicked upstairs or assigned to a sub-group. Then, after everyone has their say and decisions are made, the decision needs to be supported by the entire group, even if some disagree. Otherwise the disagreements move underground and undermine the workings of all. There is one special exception: if the decision is illegal, immoral or dangerous. In such cases, dissent may be healthier for the organization in the long run than cooperating in the short run with bad decisions.

The door to the meeting room opens and it's the person who called the meeting, running 10 minutes late because the previous meeting ended late and he had to stop by his office and pick up some notes to remind him of what this meeting was about. The folks already in the room are discussing last night's game and wondering how long the meeting is going to last. Only one person remembers getting the notes from the last meeting. And he's the only one that has a copy of the report they're supposed to discuss.

Does this sound or feel familiar? You're not alone. One topic that everyone can agree on is this: Meetings are often a waste of time and money. Scary meeting statistics abound. According to an infographic from software company Atlassian, U.S. businesses waste $37 billion a year. Some of that meeting time may have been wasted in your organization. What is strange is why this situation isn't on the top of anyone's list to get fixed. If we are wasting billions, why don't corporations make the effort to fix the problem? Perhaps it boils down to a lack of accountability. But this is something that is entirely within our control. Here are some symptoms of bad meetings, identified by Joel D. Levitt, and what you can do to fix them.

With more than 30 years of management experience in the maintenance and engineering fields, Joel D. Levitt is a leading trainer of manufacturing, operational and maintenance professionals – having trained more than 15,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in 25 countries. Since 1980, Levitt has been the president of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm servicing clients of all sizes on a wide range of maintenance issues, and is currently the Director of International Projects at Life Cycle Engineering. Mr. Levitt is the author of 10 popular books and over 150 articles on maintenance management, as well a frequent speaker at related industry conferences.


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