Go ahead and admit it, you’ve thought about it. There you are, sitting in another one of those marathon meaningless meetings, wishing you were on an episode of SAW rather than sitting in that cramped room listening to the same speech over and over again. Then, one happy thought skips across your mind as a tease to get you out of there… call in a fake bomb threat. (Disclaimer: I would highly recommend you NOT do this since the FBI has a tendency to not find these measures so appealing.)
Why do meetings have to be so boring and unproductive? Why do you feel the air sucked out of your lungs when you receive one of those invites to the meeting of the week? Furthermore, why do most businesses have meetings about meetings? Not sure, but it can change.
One of my children asked me one day what I did at work. My response? I listen to conference calls. Yeah, that’s exactly what I said I wanted to do when I grew up during my 2nd grade speech to the class. “When I grow up, I want to endure pointless meetings that take up hours of my life I will never get back. I want to become addicted to the wonderful and exciting hold music that plays before those fabulous conference calls.” Um yeah, never came out of my mouth, but it seems, the higher in an organization you go, the more talking and less doing occurs.
There are times I miss being on the front lines. I miss working in a bank branch. I loved it. There was always closure at the end of the day. Did I balance? How many people did I serve today? Did I hit my numbers to get the bonus? Those where the only questions I wanted answers to as I walked out the door at the end of the business day. Those were the good old days.
Most American workers want and long for satisfaction. Yes, interacting with the team is paramount to success, but not necessarily via meetings discussing the same topics every time. People get excited when they see progress being made. In the book, “Good to Great”, the authors discuss the pendulum effect. Essentially, with a little push, the pendulum begins gaining momentum and with the right balance of force, begins to pick up speed. This speed is associated with an action. You cannot talk to a pendulum and share minutes about the talk in order to get it to shift. You have to put something into it.
Meetings, they’re necessary, but need to be held to success factors. Rather than discussing the same old tiresome facts, think of a way to defibrillate them and make them active. We have discussed some ways to “involve the pit crew” which is always a help. As a leader, think of what you can bring to the meeting in terms of growth and development. This could be recent articles about your industry, fun crazy facts to open the meeting, change up the standard mojo of the meeting, or simply, find a creative way to illustrate a sales, customer service, or other type of tactic. Meetings can be fun. You just have to think outside of the box.
Another great idea used in the past is to alternate leaders. Empower some of the members of your team to run the agenda. This will allow them to become more involved while at the same time, let them see running a meeting is not as easy as it looks. Challenge them to be creative in their approach and applaud them for stepping up to the plate. If you are not comfortable with this, try sectioning off certain topics to various team members and give them carte de blanche on how to get the point across. You might just be surprised on what comes out of the meeting. In the process, you transform yourself from just a manager to a leader.
So in essence, I’m telling you to keep this guy out of your meeting room. Granted, I am devestatingly afraid of clowns so it would be all the motivation I need to keep meetings productive and lively versus allowing some evil creature the rest of the world refers to as a clown creep up in my board room. And if you need information or would like to research the painful effects of a marathon meeting, watch one of the series of SAW and remember, the people being tortured are the ones in your meeting. Save them!
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.
For my professional resume, click here.