Bad meetings are the fast food of the knowledge worker; it’s so deliciously quick and easy to throw a 60-minute default meeting on everyone’s schedule, but the long-term costs are extremely unhealthy.
Busy meeting organizers drive-thru schedule meetings because they think they don’t have time to plan. They expect good outcomes to come from little preparation, which doesn’t happen. The meetings are being held and progress is stilted.
One way to save everyone significant time (and win lots of friends) would be to just get rid of all meetings, but a well-prepared and well-run session can expedite communication and get a team closer to its goals. Unfortunately, most meetings are lazily planned and poorly run, imprisoning attendees and halting productivity.
So how can you separate the good meetings from the bad?
Measure your meeting waistline
No one measures the impact of their meetings. So the first step is to start keeping meeting metrics so that you can identify the bad meetings on your teams’ calendars.
Every time a recurring meeting is added to a calendar, a kitten dies.
My company has created a calendar assistant that automatically measures and stops bad meetings before they occur, but if you can’t automate the prevention of bad meetings, survey and learn from attendees after the meeting to record and measure them.
Create taxonomies and quantify the types of meetings that are being held — for example: “information sharing,” “brainstorming,” “1:1,” “decision-making,” etc.
After several months (ideally a year) of collecting metrics, you can grade the quality and look for patterns. You will probably find something along these lines:
- Very few employees decline meetings, even when it’s obvious that the meeting is going to be a doozy.