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2 Reasons Your Meetings Are Complete Failures

Reasons why your meetings are complete failures

Meetings are worthless without execution.

It is absolutely mind boggling how many meetings go on each and every day in businesses all across the globe that are virtually a complete waste of time.

Meetings are perhaps the lowest use of time and the greatest waste of money in all of business.

People think that the purpose of meetings is to communicate.

That is wrong.

Communication is not a purpose because communication is not a destination.

Communication is the journey. Communication is the process. But communication isn’t the goal.

The destination, and the purpose of meetings, is two-fold.

1. To make decisions
2. To take actions

That’s it.

That is why you meet.

Decisions and actions.

If you don’t complete either of these, then your meeting was a failure.

Building trust and comradery is also a function of meetings, but it’s still more of a bi-product rather than the focused outcome.

Communication is the necessary path to making decisions and to deciding what actions need to be taken.

But communication, in and of itself, is not an end goal.

So when you meet you meet, you need at least one person in the meeting driving the team to make decisions and to assign action items.

Not only that but you also, more importantly, need one person that documents those decisions made and the action items assigned.

That way you can refer back to them later, communicate clear next action steps, and hold people accountable to getting significant priorities knocked out.

If you walk out of a meeting without decisions documented and action items assigned, then I don’t care how good of a meeting it was, it was a failed meeting.

It was a waste of time.

It was a lack of leadership.

You have to make decisions.

And you have to assign actions.

When you do that, things get done.

Things get changed.

Things get improved.

And if your meeting doesn’t have the right people, the right amount of time, or the right commitment to decisions and actions…

Then simply, don’t have the meeting.

  • Rob Hill

    Truer than true.

  • Paige

    A challenge that one of the teams I’m on has is a lack of content. We have a set Monday meeting once a week and there are weeks where we are just running through the set agenda and no one has anything to say. It is a total waste of time. Our team lead has made some efforts to bring more and better content for those weeks where not much is going on. I’m going to suggest discussing some of these Action Catalyst topics for these “slower” days. There is always something to learn!! Thanks Rory

  • Rory, Agree that most meetings are huge wastes of time. I work for a huge, multi-national company and probably spend close to 50% of my time in meetings. Add in an hour or two a day to keep-up with Email, and you quickly see that you realize there is no time left to “do work”!
    However, although I agree that “making decisions” and “taking actions” are two key reasons to hold meetings, there are a few others that are legitimate as well:
    1) Proposing/Convincing/Defending – Sometimes, you must meet with people to get them to understand a position or try to sway them to your ideas. This is almost always done best by a meeting – “face to face” if at all possible.
    2) Brainstorming/Idea Generation – Sometimes a meeting is the best way to generate ideas and alternatives/options. Yes, some of this can be done via communication channels/information exchange, but I have found that the group interaction and dynamics you get from a meeting to be very valuable.
    3) Discuss sensitive topics – Some topics (personnel related, corporate strategy, performance issues) are best discussed in small meetings where people can have real-time interaction and feedback.

    No question most meetings are wasteful, but I think the above are also viable reasons for meetings as well.

  • Thanks Paige! Yah, you should definitely consider bringing in podcasts or podcast segments during some meetings for special training. You are certainly welcome to share any of my blogs or podcasts. Not sure what your role is but on the right side of my blog is a “Posts by Category” section which separates all of our blogs/podcasts out by topic.

  • Touche Michael! Thanks for chiming in. These are really good thoughts for sure. In my head I would actually loop #1 and #3 from your list under the “Make decisions” category and #2 on the “take actions” category as those are the outcomes I’d be hoping for. But not necessarily always because like you say, it can sometimes take multiple meetings to Convince/Defend. I suppose if you’re driving towards some actionable decision then it’s probably all good even if it takes a few meetings to get there. Brainstorming is an interesting one. I definitely agree with you that this is better done in a live group setting than over email or something. I suppose that one could stand on its own also, although I personally don’t like brainstorming meetings that we don’t at least commit to some next action step. Probably just me though. 😉 Appreciate the thoughtful response!