When you have an ongoing problem in your business or maybe an outstanding opportunity before you, what could be better than holding a meeting to bring together all of your true experts (managers and employees) to discuss the issue and come to a quick and balanced solution?
Well, in theory, nothing could be better than holding such a meeting. You could argue that it would be even better to hold such meetings regularly to anticipate business obstacles, plan actions to take advantage of opportunities and monitor the business environment. You'd almost be nuts not to hold such brain-trusts every chance you get! Right?
If this makes so much sense, why is it that meetings are the single most ridiculed and criticized business events in popular culture? Someone on television is always making fun of meetings; showing them to be the lame, brainless offspring of some college-educated executive boob. The modern company meeting is too often the silly retreat of the uninspired; a corporate wasteland where creative juices are boxed into a redundant and stifling group exercise.
Why are meetings so picked upon? How could such a valuable management tool be so derided and ridiculed? The answer is quite simple — too often they deserve it!
Do You Really Need A Meeting?
Before we jump into why meetings fail, let's touch on an area so obvious it often goes unexplored; does the issue before you require a meeting to be resolved? Shouldn't that be the first thought? Are you scheduling a meeting for the right reason (i.e., you need the mind power) or is it just a historical knee-jerk response? Before choosing this pricey management tool, make certain the value that you'll receive is greater than the investment in energy and the interruption to work flow.
Why Meetings Fail
There are many reasons why meetings fail to live up to their potential. Some have to do with the mix of talent within the room, while others are because the subject matter wasn't right for a team solution. Here's a short list of the structural failures that commonly plague a small business:
- Destination Unknown. No one can agree what the meeting is about or define the boundaries. Therefore, no one knows when you're out of bounds or the objective has been met. Too many meetings wander leaderless until they just fizzle out.
- Too Many People. Pick only the core team to go against any issue. Less is always better. Great meetings can happen with just two or three solid participants.
- The Wrong People. Stock your team wisely. Bringing in earthmovers for a finesse job can only go wildly wrong.