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Guest Commentary: Are Meetings Killing You And Your Organization?

In many companies, employees spend more time in meetings than doing their jobs. Can you relate? When is the last time your employees left a meeting thinking “Wow! That was a successful and beneficial use of our time!”?

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John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

In every organization there appears to be a constant stream of “meetings” and employees tend to have a distaste for meetings as they take on a life of their own. Indeed, meetings are an effective tool for communications, productivity and transparency. The danger to confront is the status quo mentality. Employees go through the motions but are not truly engaged in the meeting. They are there physically but not mentally. There is too much talking, little listening and not enough time addressing key issues and action plans. 

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In many companies, employees spend more time in meetings than doing their jobs. Can you relate? When is the last time your employees left a meeting thinking “Wow! That was a successful and beneficial use of our time!”?

The purpose of a meeting is to enhance and build relationships. The focus should be two-way communications, sharing of information and recognizing accomplishments.

It is time to reset the purpose of a meeting:

  • To share pertinent information
  • To keep each other up-to-date
  • To make decisions
  • To assign action required, and accountability 
  • To resolve issues 
  • To solve problems 
  • To encourage cross functional support and clear communications

It appears we are addicted to meetings. Another concern is that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health. Get your mind around this: A Microsoft, America Online and Salary.com study found that the average person works only three days a week. The rest of the time they are in meetings! Now is the time to poll your employees to solicit candid feedback on how to make meetings more interesting and productive. Are meetings held for the sole purpose of having a meeting? And do they take on a life of their own? 

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The atmosphere of meaningful meetings should be:

  • Shared goals
  • A climate of trust 
  • Open communications
  • Differences of opinions are welcomed 
  • Creativity and risk taking is encouraged
  • Shared values and an alignment of actions and values

It is time to draw energy, teamwork, clarity and fun (yes, I said fun!) two-way communication, purpose and open, candid feedback from the participants attending the meeting. Take the time to create the future. Do your employees bring passion and professional pride to your meetings? If the answer is no, find out why! 

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