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Sorting out dysfunctional meetings

Sitting through dysfunctional meetings can feel like a marathon. But there are ways to save time and keep employees engaged, says David Parmenter.

Meetings and human beings do not go well together. For the 40 years I have been working, I have seen very little improvement in the way meetings are run. For far too many of us, our working day is subjected to far too many meetings, scheduled across the day, that go nowhere quickly. Any agreed actions are soon forgotten.

Despite most managers at some point receiving training in managing meetings, the level of frustration with them remains the same. The problem has been that the training has not delved into the core reasons for failure. Even the legendary John Cleese’s training video – Meetings, Bloody Meetings – serves to entertain rather than tackle these issues.

Dysfunctional meetings usually have the following characteristics: unclear agendas, lack of engagement, lack of linkage to the organisation’s critical success factors, too many attendees, half of whom don’t know why they are there, rambling discussions, a lack of understanding that some attendees’ focus is elsewhere, poorly defined actions and no follow-through.

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 264, May 2018.

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