Last week I led a management development program for a large TV broadcasting network. During the course of the discussion, we landed on the issue of meetings. Of course this is a subject that is discussed all the time. And most people have opinions about them in every organization. Not surprisingly, all 19 of the participants - ranging from manager level to director level - said they don't like meetings. (So what else is new?)
Basically they felt that meetings were a major waste of time with many people using them improperly and simply wasting the other participants already-too-short time.
When we got into it, each of them understood that meetings are a fact of life. Many of the participants were the people who actually called meetings themselves. They admitted calling meetings fairly often.
We discussed the ins and outs of, "what makes a meeting successful?"
Interestingly, most felt like they're asked to attend meetings with no formal agenda. They said they rarely have anyone taking minutes for distribution; and generally the meetings don't accomplish much except to say, "there's going to be another meeting".
One of the more junior participants who's only been in the corporate world for about a year, noted that when he was back attending college it was "just obvious" that in every meeting somone would be appointed to be the notetaker. He said that he just presumed everyone at his company was really good when he came to corporate life and saw no notetakers in the meetings. "I figured, 'this is the big leagues and having a designated minute taker was only for amateurs."
When he made that comment, he immediately got an earful from the others. Everyone, it seemed, thought it would be great to have minutes recorded and then sent out after a meeting so they could see what the next steps were; and if the meeting was executing the action required.
Of course, no one wanted to be the notetaker. Two solid ideas came up:
- Rotating the person who acts as scribe, so no one is always in the role of group secretary.
- Keeping the published notes down to simple bullets with action items recorded.
I believe that a new management style was born in this huge company. Given how most people in most companies complain about wasting too much time in non-productive activity - these just make sense don't they?
See you next week
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.